N.Y. School District Drops 'Redskins' Mascot Following Opponents' Boycotts
Last week, the board of education of an upstate New York school district unanimously voted to immediately retire its "Redskins" team name amidst ongoing concerns about its appropriateness.
According to a statement posted on the Lancaster Central school district's website, the board's resolution states that "the 'Redskins' mascot is recognized as a symbol of ethnic stereotyping, and as a school district, Lancaster cannot continue practices which are offensive and hurtful to others 'when we endeavor to teach our children to be kind and to accept differences among people with grace and respect.'"
Earlier this month, multiple high schools cancelled upcoming lacrosse games due to Lancaster's use of the team name. The student body of one of the schools, Akron High School, is roughly 11 percent Native American, and a majority of its lacrosse team is Native American, too. Lake Shore High School, which also boycotted boys and girls lacrosse games against Lancaster, has a high number of Native American students.
Board members said that the actions of Akron and Lake Shore "hastened the decision," according to Carolyn Thompson of The Associated Press.
Three days after the board abruptly retired the team nickname, roughly 300 students walked out of the school in protest, per Thompson:
At times chanting 'Let's go Redskins!' the students gathered at the start of school and walked into the village of Lancaster before returning to campus. Among their signs were ones saying 'School board speak with forked tongue' and 'Once a Redskin, always a Redskin.'
On Monday, ESPN's Keith Olbermann highlighted such protesters as the "world's worst" in the sports world (skip ahead to the 2:30 mark):
Lancaster Superintendent Michael J. Vallely assured that students would be involved in the process of selecting a new team name, saying in a statement, "We expect them to become fully engaged in this process of generating creative ideas that the entire community can embrace." During last week's board meeting, Vallely said the district "purposely did not set a timeframe on a new mascot," according to The Buffalo News, which would afford him time to speak with student leaders.
Some board members spoke of receiving threats from supporters of the team name, with some suggesting they would vote down the district's budget, per the paper. More than 100 people showed up at a board work session this past Monday as well, the paper reported, but most were asked to leave due to fire-code violations. (The room was only meant to hold 45 people.) District spokeswoman Patricia Burgio told the paper it was the "wrong place and the wrong time" for supporters of the name to voice their disagreement, as "board work sessions don't provide an opportunity for public comment."
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