- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 11, 2015

California will no longer permit public schools to use “Redskins” as a nickname or mascot under a bill signed Sunday by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.

The California Racial Mascots Act, which makes the state the first to ban “Redskins,” is believed to affect only four high schools. The measure goes into effect Jan. 1, 2017, but allows schools to phase in new sports and band uniforms as long as they block the name for future use.

Sponsored by Democratic Assemblymember Luis Alejo, Assembly Bill 30 easily cleared the state Assembly and Senate, despite objections from those who called it a local control issue.

“California has the largest number of Native Americans in the country, it’s time we as a state take a stand against racial slurs used by our public schools,” said Mr. Alejo in a statement after the first Assembly vote in May.

“This is part of a national movement and now is the time for us here in California to end the use of this derogatory term in our public schools,” said Mr. Alejo, who has also opposed the NFL Washington Redskins team name.

At the same time, Mr. Brown vetoed a bill to ban the naming of roads and buildings after Confederate leaders, citing local control.

“Local governments are laboratories of democracy which, under most circumstances, are quite capable of deciding for themselves which of their buildings and parks should be named, and after whom,” Mr. Brown said in a statement.

Change the Mascot, an advocacy group challenging the NFL team’s name, issued a statement Sunday commending California for banning the nickname and urging the Washington Redskins to follow the state’s example.

“The most populous state in the country has now taken a stand against the use of this insidious slur in its schools, and Change the Mascot expects more states to follow,” said the statement. “This landmark legislation eliminating the R-word in California schools clearly demonstrates that this issue is not going away, and that opposition to the Washington team on this issue is only intensifying. The NFL should act immediately to press the team to change the name.”

The battle over the Redskins name has waged for decades, culminating in 2014 with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s decision to cancel the NFL team’s patents. A federal judge upheld the office’s move in a July ruling now being appealed by the team.

In 2005, the NCAA barred the use of American Indian nicknames, mascots and logos from hosting postseason events, prompting about a dozen universities to change their Indian-related nicknames.

An exception was made for any schools whose nickname had received tribal approval, such as the Florida State Seminoles.

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