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Two H.S. Lacrosse Teams Cancel Games Due to Opponent's 'Redskins' Mascot

The debate over the "Redskins" mascot has extended to the Buffalo, N.Y., area, where two high schools last week cancelled upcoming lacrosse games due to an opponent's use of said nickname.

On Friday, Akron High School elected to cancel its March 31 varsity lacrosse game against Lancaster High School, citing concerns about Lancaster's "Redskins" mascot, per The Associated Press. Roughly 11 percent of the school's students and a majority of the lacrosse team are Native American, according to the AP.

The decision to cancel the game was unanimous among players and community members, Akron Superintendent Kevin Shanley told WGRZ's Jeff Preval.

"Over the past few days, we've had some productive and enlightening conversations within our district, and based on those conversations it was decided we would cancel our non-league lacrosse game with Lancaster in support of our Native American students and families," Shanley told WGRZ.com.

Lake Shore High School, which also has a high population of Native American students, quickly followed suit by cancelling both boys' and girls' lacrosse games against Lancaster, per Syracuse.com. Lake Shore Superintendent James Przepasniak likewise cited the school's population of Native American students as a reason for the cancellation.

"It is in support of our Native American community," Przepasniak told WIVB.com. "It was done in a mature and responsible way."

Lancaster High School has used the "Redskins" mascot since the early 1950s, according to The New York Times, but the district is currently weighing whether to keep it or change it. Hundreds of community members filed into the high school's cafeteria this past Tuesday for a debate over the nickname. More than 2,700 people have signed an online petition to keep the name as is, while a petition to change the mascot has 1,600-plus supporters.

Following Akron's decision Friday to cancel its upcoming lacrosse game, the Lancaster district released a statement that read, in part:

Lancaster is not a hurtful community and the Redskins mascot has been part of a proud heritage that has been with the community for more than 60 years. One of the many things discovered in our public forum on March 3 is that our community never intended this name and mascot to be viewed as derogatory in any way. However, we know that the world is a very different place than it was back in 1952 when our school first adopted the Redskin name as its new mascot. Consequently, we have been working very proactively with our student leadership, through various channels, to build a level of sensitivity and awareness that what they may perceive as a title of pride and honor is not necessarily viewed in the same way by others, especially many in the Native American community.

The district pledged to "continue to have a respectful and open-minded conversation about the mascot issue" and asked "all parties who are involved in the process to continue to mirror a level of respect and dignity, as they as well are role models for our students." At the moment, the district does not appear to have any firm date by which it plans to decide upon the fate of its mascot.

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