HISD schools may change mascots at schools that use Native American images

Monday, December 09, 2013

A controversial move to ban the use of Native American mascots at some HISD schools could happen by the end of this week.

HISD Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier issued a statement on Monday, announcing he'll be asking Trustees to approve a policy change that would "respect cultural differences, values, and attitudes by placing a ban on mascots or nicknames that use race or ethnicity."

The announcement of the proposed controversial mascot policy change comes after a series of meetings and open letters issued by State Senator Rodney Ellis, the Anti-Defamation League and HISD Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier. Each of those parties spent time addressing the use of "Redskins" as the Lamar High School mascot.

Both Ellis and the ADL argued Lamar's current mascot is derogatory and inflammatory against members of the Native American community, and continued use of that mascot should cease. Dr. Grier issued an editorial in the local paper over the weekend supporting those claims, adding "some decisions made generations ago need to be reconsidered."

Some current Lamar High school students and graduates have taken their protest of the proposed mascot change to an online petition. They're urging Dr. Grier to keep Lamar's "Redskin" mascot. Some of those opponents to the name change argue the mascot is part of the school's brand and tradition.

In his statement, HISD's superintendent says a move by the Board of Trustees to approve policy changes would impact four campuses, phasing out the Lamar High School Redskins, Westbury High School Rebels, Hamilton Middle School Indians and Welch Middle School Warriors mascots and all related symbols and branding images by the end of the school year.

The superintendent says the district will provide assistance to the schools impacted by the policy, in hopes of working with the community to come up with options to honor the old mascots while the new ones are potentially in place by the start of next school year.

The entire statement from Houston Independent School District's Superintendent: "Superintendent Terry Grier is confident that by the end of this week, HISD will have a new policy that corrects a longstanding wrong  the use of Native American images as mascots at three schools. He's asking trustees to approve a change in policy that would "respect cultural differences, values, and attitudes" by placing a ban on mascots or nicknames that use race or ethnicity. This would retire the Lamar HS Redskins, Hamilton MS Indians, and Welch MS Warriors mascots and all related labels and imagery by the end of the school year. The district is providing assistance to principals at those schools to work with their communities to honor the traditions of the old mascots while having new ones in place in time for the opening of school next August."

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