The Madison School Board voted unanimously last month to enact a rule that will prohibit students from wearing clothing of sports teams which have American Indian names.
The district released a statement outlining the policy saying, “Students may not wear shirts, hats or other attire with Native American team names, logos or mascots that depict negative stereotypes. A list of team names, logos and mascots prohibited under this provision is available at all schools and on the District website,” The Wisconsin State Journal reports.
According to Gabriel Saiz, a local student who helped draft the proposal, The Florida State Seminoles and Chicago Blackhawks are examples of prohibited logos.
Saiz said regarding the policy, “People can say whatever they want, but I don’t want representations of how you see us and how you want us to act, because that’s going to destroy self-esteem and make the school less safe for Native students.”
The new rule change also prohibits visiting schools with American Indian mascots or logos from wearing those when playing away against a Madison school.
But the rule change has met with opposition. Chris Ahmuty, executive director of the ACLU in Wisconsin said, “Shouldn’t we look at these things individually instead of on the basis of fear?”
Wisconsin has a history of protecting American Indian mascots and logos, as presidential candidate Gov. Scott Walker signed a law in 2013 making it more difficult to cause a change in a public school’s team name.
The law requires a petition be signed by 10 percent of the adults in the school district, as opposed to the former law in which one individual complaint could start a review process. (RELATED:In Wisconsin, Big Chief Walker signs new Indian mascot bill)
Daphna Oyserman, a psychology professor at University of Southern California, has studied the psychological effects of American Indian logos, and defended the rule. “If your group is otherwise invisible and this is pretty much the only way that your group is present in the public sphere … that is the image that comes to mind when people think of your group.”
The new rule would treat an offender the same as if they broke any other dress code violation such as revealing intimate parts of the body or wearing their pants too low.
The punishment would just be for the student to turn their shirt inside out, cover up the logo, or head home and change. If they don’t comply they could risk being suspended or expelled.