The California Assembly passed a bill on Monday banning "Redskins" as a high school mascot, creating the possibility that the state will become the first in the country to eradicate the word from high school nicknames.
The California Racial Mascots Act, which passed 57-9, now moves to the state senate. If AB30—the official name of the bill—becomes law, California schools would be required to phase out "Redskins" by 2017.
Two previous legislative attempts to ban the use of "Redskins" as a mascot failed. In 2002, the legislature voted down an effort to bar the use of Native American themed names, such as "Redskins" and "Chiefs." In 2004, Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill to place a ban exclusively on "Redskins," arguing that the state shouldn't meddle in what he considered a local issue, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.
Only four high schools in California still use the mascot. California has the largest Native American population of any state.
The "Redskins" name has come under intense scrutiny over the last two years, with most criticism directed at Washington's NFL team. Critics of the name say it is racist, disparaging and offensive toward Native Americans, while defenders say it is meant as an honor.
Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has said repeatedly that he will "never" change the team's name.
In June 2014, the U.S. Patent Office canceled trademark registrations for the franchise, saying the nickname is "disparaging to Native Americans." Federal law prohibits trademark protection on offensive or disparaging language.
- Stanley Kay