On Monday night, the Lancaster School Board in New York unanimously approved replacing “Redskins” with “Legends” for the district’s sports teams. The new nickname, replacing the 70-year-old “Redskins” moniker, brings with it a new mascot and logo.
The school board’s actions followed the Board of Education of the Lancaster Central School District resolving to remove “Redskins” on March 16. In explaining the decision, the school district stated: “In the resolution, the board states its commitment to provide an educational environment that embraces cultural diversity, tolerance, and respect among the students, staff, and the greater school community. The resolution also states the ‘Redskins’ mascot is recognized as a symbol of ethnic stereotyping, and as a school district, Lancaster cannot continue practices which are offensive and hurtful to others ‘when we endeavor to teach our children to be kind and to accept differences among people with grace and respect.'”
Lancaster may well have been prompted to act because three Buffalo-area school districts with Native American students, Akron, Lake Shore, and Niagara Wheatfield, had boycotted lacrosse games against Lancaster teams to protest the nickname.
Karissa Gozdziak, 13, who created the new logo design, told WIVB, “The fact that I’m going to be immortalized in this school is so crazy to me, and now it’s going to be a legacy that’s going to be here forever. When they hear the name Lancaster Legends, I just want them to be happy and not be angry that it’s not what it was; and we can all come together as a name.”
The move by Lancaster elicited strong opposition within the community, as evidenced at Monday’s meeting. After the move was approved, some citizens wearing T-shirts emblazoned with “Bring the mascot back” turned their backs.
Lancaster School Board President Kenneth Graber responded, “Well, I don’t care if they turn their backs to us, we are adults. What I didn’t like was the young student Karissa, she and her family were up there, they turned their back on her. Does she deserve that? Not at all. Is that acting as an adult or as an intelligent person? No.”
School officials will schedule a retirement ceremony for the Redskin name and an introduction to the new nickname. According to Graber, all the stationery, sports equipment, and the athletic uniforms will be modified accordingly.