We respectfully ask that the Washington State Board of Education, the Equity and Civil Rights Office, OSPI, and the Washington State Legislature adopt an administrative rule, and/or pass a State bill, that prohibits public schools in Washington State from using names, symbols, or images that depict or refer to an American Indian tribe, custom, or tradition as a mascot, nickname, logo, or team name.
In Washington State, we have roughly twenty high schools with Native American mascots, ranging from the Renton and Reardon Indians to the Moses Lake Chiefs and the Port Townsend Redskins.
For decades, American Indians from around the country have protested the use of Native American mascots and imagery, citing the discriminatory and derogatory nature of such images. Research supports these claims. In 2005, the American Psychological Association (APA) called for the immediate retirement of all American Indian mascots, based on a growing body of social science literature that shows the harmful effects of racial stereotypes in American Indian sports mascots on the social identity development and self-esteem of American Indian youth.
In 2010, the Washington State Legislature and Governor Gregoire passed HB 3026, which banned discrimination in public schools. Under HB 3026, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) shall monitor and enforce school districts' compliance with this law. HB 3026 parallels the Washington Law Against Discrimination (RCW 49.60), which also prohibits discrimination based on these protected classes in public accommodations, including schools.
The continued use of Native American mascots violates both HB 3026 and RCW 49.60 in the promotion of discrimination against Native Americans. OSPI has been given the responsibility by the Washington State Legislature to ensure that persons are not subjected to unlawful discrimination. Native American students are entitled to educational environments that are free of discrimination.