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Calif. Senate Committee Approves Ban on 'Redskins' as School Mascot

California's Senate committee on education approved a bill Wednesday that would prohibit public schools throughout the state from using "Redskins" as a school or team name, mascot, or nickname, bringing it one step closer to becoming a law.

The bill, which the state Assembly passed on a 60-9 vote last month, says "the use of racially derogatory or discriminatory school or athletic team names, mascots, or nicknames in California public schools is antithetical to the California school mission of providing an equal education to all." The San Francisco Chronicle's Melody Gutierrez reported that the Senate committee's debate thus centered "on whether the use honors American Indians or is a racial slur."

According to Gutierrez, state Sen. Marty Block clearly expressed how he felt about the term during the committee meeting: 

KMJNow.com reported that Sen. Andy Vidak was the lone committee member to vote against the bill. It next heads to the Senate appropriations committee for consideration. State schools chief Tom Torlakson has come out in favor of the bill, saying it "would help ensure that all students are afforded the opportunity to attend school events and athletic exhibitions without fear of discrimination."

According to Gutierrez, four schools in the state currently use "Redskins" as a mascot: Gustine High School, Calaveras High School, Chowchilla Union High School, and Tulare Union High School. If the legislation passes, all public schools would be banned from using the term beginning Jan. 1, 2017.

Gustine Unified Superintendent Ronald Estes told the Merced Sun-Star it would cost the district roughly $110,000 to switch to a different mascot. To help ease the burden on schools currently using the mascot, the legislation allows such schools to temporarily continue using uniforms or other materials with the name so long as they were purchased before Jan. 1, 2017. The schools must also have selected a new team name, refrain from purchasing any uniform with the term "Redskins" on it (except for uniforms to be used as replacements), and refrain from using the term in any other setting, including on yearbooks, in newspapers, or on signs or marquees.

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