The California State Assembly voted on Thursday to approve legislation that would ban any schools within the state from using the term “Redskins” as their nickname or mascot.
The move would make California the first state to specifically ban schools from using the name, which has been a subject of controversy recently.
The California Racial Mascots Act, introduced by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, was approved in both houses of the state legislature last week, and now goes to governor Jerry Brown for approval. Once enacted, four high schools that still use the name will be forced to change it by the beginning of 2017.
“As the state with the largest Native American population in the country, we should not continue to allow a racial slur to be used by our public schools,” Alejo said in a press release. “It’s time for California to do the right thing and phase out the use of this, dictionary defined, racial slur.”
The legislation comes as debate continues around the Washington Redskins' use of the nickname. The NFL team has remained resolute in its retention of the name, despite the efforts of the Change The Mascot campaign, which has been putting pressure on the franchise and the NFL to change it.
“This milestone is a major victory for everyone continuing the fight to bring an end to the use of this demeaning epithet in California and all across the country,” Change The Mascot leaders said. “Faced with this latest development, the National Football League must now try to reconcile how it can keep defending the use of a racial slur that the most populous state in the country, which is also home to three of the league’s teams, deems too offensive for its own public school system.”