California schools barred from using ‘Redskins’ as team name or mascot


California became the first state in the nation to pass a law prohibiting public schools from using the term “Redskins” as a team name or mascot.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday approved the measure barring the use of the term that many Native Americans find offensive but vetoed a separate measure that would have barred public properties from being named after individuals associated with the Confederacy.

As of Jan. 1, 2017, all public schools will be barred from using the term “Redskin,” which many Native Americans consider a racial slur. The measure by Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville) will allow schools that use materials that contain the term, such as uniforms, to phase out their use to alleviate cost concerns. The new law will affect four California high schools in Merced, Calaveras, Tulare and Madera counties.


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Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter and National Congress of American Indians Executive Director Jackie Pata, leaders of the advocacy group Change the Mascot, used the new California law to exert pressure on the Washington Redskins, the professional football team that has faced sharp criticism over its name.

“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,” Halbritter and Pata said in a statement.

Brown was less receptive to a bill by state Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) that sought to prohibit public buildings and parks from carrying the name of Confederate figures.

Glazer introduced the bill after a mass shooting in Charleston, S.C., catalyzed a movement to remove the Confederate flag from public buildings.

Brown, in his veto message, said such an action was “long overdue.” But he said the naming of public buildings was different and an issue “quintessentially for local decision makers.”


“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,” Brown wrote.

Glazer, a former Brown adviser, rebuked the governor’s veto on Twitter.

“Locals have had decades to remove confederate leaders from places of honor in Ca. Veto is hollow defense of unacceptable status quo,” Glazer wrote.

Also on Sunday, in a final sweep of bill actions for the year, Brown approved laws that will:

* Ban professional baseball players from using chewing tobacco on the playing field of major league stadiums.

* Authorize state employees to use ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft and short-term rentals such as Airbnb while traveling on state business.

* Legalize the use of electronic skateboards.

Brown also vetoed a measure that would have expanded unpaid family leave to allow workers to take up to 12 weeks off to care for an ailing sibling, grandparent, grandchild, parent-in-law or domestic partner.

The governor, in his veto message, said the bill by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) created a disparity between state and federal law that could require employers in some cases to grant up to 24 weeks of leave.

“I am open to legislation to allow workers to take leave for additional family members that does not create this anomaly,” Brown wrote.

Follow @melmason for more on California government and politics.


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