California bans “Redskins” name from public school sports teams

© Gary Cameron
The Golden State has passed a law banning public schools from using “Redskins” as a sports team name or mascot, making it the first state in the nation to take this step. However, Confederacy-related names on public buildings will still be allowed.

Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed the California Racial Mascots Act into law Sunday, but vetoed another measure that would have prohibited public properties from being named after figures associated with the Confederacy.

This makes California the first state to ban the Redskins moniker, and the law will become effective on January 1, 2017. Four schools that are currently using the name will have to change it by then: Calaveras High School, Chowchilla Union High School, Gustine High School and Tulare Union High School, according to USA Today.

This move comes at a time when the National Football League’s Washington Redskins are under fire for their name, which detractors say is racial slur against Native Americans.

“The most populous state in the country has now taken a stand against the use of this insidious slur in its schools," activists from the group Change the Mascot said in a statement on Sunday. California’s lawmakers are “standing on the right side of history by bringing an end to the use of the demeaning and damaging R-word slur in the state's schools."

Redskins President Bruce Allen, however, said in August that the team will not consider changing its name. Team owner Daniel Snyder has repeatedly said that he will “never” change the name. Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Donald Trump also said they do not see a need for the moniker to be dropped.

California is the first in the nation to prohibit the term statewide, but municipal school districts such as Madison, Wisconsin and Houston, Texas have already done so, according to a spokesman for the Oneida Indian Nation, which has backed the Change the Mascot campaign.

Another bill on a racially sensitive issue didn’t get the same treatment, though. Brown, who signed a bill outlawing the sale of faux Confederate currency last year, vetoed a measure to ban naming public property after figures from the Confederate States of America.

The bill was introduced by Democratic state Senator Steve Glazer, a former adviser to Brown, in the aftermath of the mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. The massacre catalyzed a nationwide movement to remove the Confederate flag from government buildings.

READ MORE: States, stores pull Confederate flag in wake of Charleston shooting

Brown said in his veto message that such an action was "long overdue." But he said that the naming of public buildings was different and is “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,” he said.