Native American mascot ban proposed for K-12 schools in Illinois – USA TODAY

Illinois lawmakers are looking to ban K-12 schools from using Native American mascots or logos. House bill 5617—sponsored by state Rep. Maurice West—would require schools to alter logos, mascots or names with Native American tribes or features of Native American culture.
The bill would also prohibit schools from selling items with banned mascots and remove banned logos from school property. As of 2021, there were more than 50 high schools in the state with Native American names or imagery for their mascots, according to Illinois Public Media.
In a press conference on Thursday, Dr. Megan Bang, Director of the Northwestern University Center for Native American and Indigenous Research, said such mascots create a hostile learning environment, WAND TV, a local news outlet in Illinois, reported.
“Their pervasive presence in schools has demonstrated time and time again to not only harm children, but they create a society that operates on inaccurate information and harmful perceptions,” Bang told reporters. She continued saying research shows mascot names like Warriors, Indians and Braves hurt Native American kids.
The deadline for schools to change their mascot is Sept. 1, 2027, giving schools ample time to find a new logo, buy new uniforms or update athletics facilities with Native American mascots.
Rep. Maurice West filed the bill on February 9, but the proposal has yet to be assigned to a House committee.
In 2020, fivethirtyeight.com identified more than 1,200 high schools across the U.S. that continue to use Native American-themed mascots and logos.
School districts across the country have already taken action to retire Native-themed mascots.
New York state voted to ban Native American-themed logos and mascots last year. The logos must be retired by 2025 unless schools get approval from a recognized Native American tribe to keep them, NPR reported. Fifty five school districts and 12 high schools on Long Island have Native American-themed logos.
And in Washington state, schools are required to get permission from the nearest federally recognized tribe to use a mascot.
The bill’s co-sponsor, Rep. Laura Faver Dias told press that banning Native American mascots could create a more inclusive learning environment for all students and staff, as reported by WAND TV.
“I’m a former public school teacher and I taught in a school that had and still has a racist mascot today,” Faver Dias said. “It was an offensive mascot and a caricature of an American Indian. I saw firsthand the divisiveness that it created among our students and within our larger school community.

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