HISD board voted 7-0 to approve policy update on mascot change

HOUSTON - The HISD Board voted 7-0 with one abstention to approve policy update to prohibit offensive or culturally insensitive school mascots.

The Houston Independent School District held a final vote Thursday evening to decide whether mascots will be changed at four schools.

Back in December, the board voted to change the mascots for the Lamar High School Redskins, Hamilton Middle School Indians, the Westbury High Rebels and the Welch Middle School Warriors.

Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier recommended the change, saying the mascots are considered culturally offensive.

Lamar High School graduates aren't happy about the possibility of the change. They say they want their voices heard.

The trustees will now take a second vote Thursday. If approved, new mascots would be assigned to those schools according to new policies, starting in the 2014-2015 school year.

State Sen. Rodney Ellis was applauding HISD's vote Thursday night. He released a statement saying in part:

"Houston should be proud that they have leaders at HISD that recognize when it's time to move on past mascots that no longer reflect our values."

Senator Ellis released this statement Thursday evening after the final vote:

"I want to thank the HISD Board and Superintendent Grier for taking on this issue and passing the new mascot naming policy," said Senator Ellis. 

"Dr. Martin Luther King, whose life we'll celebrate next week, said that 'the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.'  It does not bend on its own, though, and that occasionally requires reexamining words that were once considered acceptable in popular culture."

"While our public education system faces a number of challenges, I know that both the Board and the Superintendent are dedicated to taking those on, and I look forward to working with them.

Tonight's vote is a small step toward making our education system a better place for all children by recognizing that our diversity is what makes us stronger as a community and stronger as a district."

Professional football's Washington Redskins released a statement which read:

"We respect the Houston Independent School District and its right to make decisions on a local matter, but we believe it is disregarding the appreciation and pride many Native Americans hold for a name that respects our country's Indian heritage and tradition.

We also believe this decision disregards a sentiment we have repeatedly heard from many American Indians who support the team's name, such as Desmond Wesley, who grew up in Texas.  He wrote us to say, 'I too have Native American roots.  I am considered an African American, so I understand racism and oppression.  This does not seem like that to me.  I completely support the name Redskins… I am so proud of the name and the team.  I hope [they] will keep it.'

The Redskins agree with Desmond and we too do not believe the name should be changed."

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