A stallion was just too sexist and controversial an image for a Lexington, Ky., high school that hasn’t even been built yet.
The stallion imagery was unveiled Monday this week, and by end of day Tuesday the decision had been reversed — thanks to an online petition organized by a local concerned citizen, Diane Cahill who objected to the male symbolism of the stallion.
“I’m very grateful to Superintendent Caulk for listening to our concerns [and] for reassessing this choice by getting input from students [and] parents,” Cahill told local CBS affiliate WKYT Tuesday night. “Hopefully a more appropriate, inclusive, gender neutral name can be found.”
Frederick Douglass High School, named in honor of the famed civil rights leader who was also a male, had intended to use a graphic of a stallion as the school’s mascot because of the community’s rich horse-breeding heritage. But Cahill’s online petition, that only elicited a relative handful of respondents, has killed the idea.
Some of the 214 people who responded to the petition to stop the stallion found the imagery “inappropriate and sexist.”
The petition, that organizers hoped would capture 500 respondents, asked the question: “What message does this send to our daughters and granddaughters? Our sons and grandsons?” and demanded that “the name be changed to something more gender neutral and more indicative of Douglass’ brilliant mind, successful career and vision for equality and to send a message to all students that they are respected and valued.”
Without even reaching her respondent goal, Cahill achieved her political goal and the local school district caved to the modest push-back.
“Since the public announcement of the mascot Monday, we have received feedback from some community members who have concerns about the mascot and we want assure our constituents that there was absolutely no intent to offend or upset anyone. … We want our new high school to be a source of unity and pride for our entire community and we thank all of those who have taken the time to reach out and engage in the conversation about this issue,” Fayette County Schools Superintendent Manny Caulk said in a statement.
The school had selected the stallion mascot, not to suggest male sexual prowess, but to commemorate the local Madden family, who had bred 14 champion race horses: “When construction began on Frederick Douglass High School, we discovered that one of the Madden’s famed stallions had been buried on the property where the new school was being built. The Stallions mascot was originally chosen to honor the rich of tradition of our land here in central Kentucky,” according to superintendent Caulk.