Education

Mascot nondiscrimination bill gets passing grade from Senate Education committee

By Guy Page

A bill requiring the Vermont Agency of Education to stamp out racist, sexist, and repressive school mascots was approved 5-1 last week by the Senate Education Committee.

Sponsored by Sen. Richard McCormack (D-Windsor), S139 will be up for review by the entire Senate on March 8, when the Senate returns from Town Meeting Week break. 

Sen. Dick McCormack

The bill requires that “the Secretary of Education, in consultation with stakeholder groups including the Vermont School Boards Association, shall develop and, from time to time, update a model nondiscriminatory school branding policy. The policy shall prohibit school branding that directly or indirectly references or stereotypes the likeness, features, symbols, traditions, or other characteristics that are specific to either: (A) the race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity of any person or group of persons; or (B) any person, group of persons, or organization associated with the repression of others.”

If the bill becomes law, a state model mascot policy must be implemented by the Agency of Education by August 1. Local school boards must have complying policies by January 1, 2023. 

S139 was introduced last April 21 by McCormack. WCAX reports that up to two dozen Vermont schools might be impacted by the bill. Schools failing to comply would be banned from participating in inter-school sports for three years. 

Some supporters of Indian names say they honor the courage, hardiness and integrity often attributed to the American Indian. But McCormack doesn’t see it that way.

“It is insulting to be a mascot,” McCormack told WCAX. “The idea of an institution itself, insulting its own students and humiliating its own students, I find unacceptable.” He also questions the Randolph High “Galloping Ghost” mascot: “Where they say it’s not racist at all, it’s a galloping ghost. But it really does kind of look like a Ku Klux Klan member.”

A similar House bill, H641, was introduced in the midst of a bitter back-and-forth battle over whether the Rutland High School mascot/team name should remain “Raiders” (perceived as racist and ethnically disparaging) or be changed to “Ravens.” Feb. 9 of last year, the Rutland school board made the switch to ‘Ravens.’ 

But the story doesn’t end there. Angry “Raider” supporters lobbied the community and the board, and on Jan. 12 the board reversed itself and restored “Raiders” as the school mascot. 

Two days later, H641 – with Rutland Rep. William Notte (D) as lead sponsor – was introduced. It has not progressed out of House Education. 

Observant Rutland readers of VDC report the name Raiders was changed from Red Raiders about 20 years ago, with little controversy or fanfare.

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12 replies »

  1. Simple update. Rutland High has not been the Red Raiders since 1997/2000, its been a long while. There was a compromise then to drop Red. Although the school’s colors are red & white.

  2. What a bunch of chicken crap ! With all that is going on in this world today those pompous asses can’t find more important thing to waste our hard earned tax money on ? If you can’t find anything more important than this save us some money, adjourn and go home !

  3. ?!@##$!???? QUESTION ARISE: 1. As citizens, do we want Legislators intruding into our lives like this? 2. Isn’t this more evidence that the educational disenfranchisement of parents needs to end? i.e. shouldn’t “schooling service” (teachers and curriculum) be a vended service families access al la carte according to their needs?

  4. The word police are at it again. But freedom of speech and expression are the bedrock principals that distinguish America from so many other places in the world. It’s not for the faint of heart, to be sure. Let’s not sacrifice these God-given rights on the alter of political correctness! As for the politicians who obsess over such nonsense, don’t you have anything better to do?

  5. Through the imaginative, snowflake eyes of a liberal/demoprog, ANYTHING can be found to be offensive most especially in an election year, when the competitive sport of virtue signaling reaches it’s most pitched crescendo.

  6. So a school’s mascot falls to the whim of a single individual? Personally, I don’t care what Richard McCormack finds offensive, and the idea that the world has to bend to his opinion is offensive to me.

  7. we are paying people to waste their time on issues like this. the more local a decision is the better. government just keeps growing and becoming more and more overbearing. all important laws already passed so they look for something to stick their nose into

    • You know what’s offensive?

      Masking up kids and making them scared of something that can’t hurt them.

      Making them suffer through class with the mask over their face when they can’t breathe.

      Stopping them from learning and growing up with the same sense of normality that you had.

      Telling them to go get a shot in their arm with an experimental drug that may or may not affect everything in their lives going forward.

      You know what’s not offensive… A mascot.

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