Six Hillsborough Schools to Shift Away From Native American Mascots
Two other Hillsborough schools will retain their mascots after making substantial changes to the images and ceremonies.
TAMPA – Students, staff and families at six Hillsborough County Public Schools are choosing new mascots for their schools.
Working with a parent advisory group representing the Native American community, all six schools have committed to choosing a new mascot for the future. The five elementary schools and one middle school have been using Native American images as their mascots, which do not respect every culture and every person in the community.
Using Native American images and mascots can easily reduce living human beings to the level of a cartoon, caricature or stereotype, school officials said. Even when there is no bad intent, these images can carry on and spread some of the symbols of the most painful parts of the country’s history.
Over the next few days, students, staff and families at each school will provide suggestions for their new mascot. A ballot will then be sent home, allowing each student and staff member to vote for their favorite choice among a group of final names.
The six schools: Adams Middle, Brooker Elementary, Forest Hills Elementary, Ruskin Elementary, Summerfield Elementary and Thonotosassa Elementary will choose a new mascot that is welcoming to everyone and doesn’t make anyone feel as if they’re not respected at Hillsborough public schools.
Two Hillsborough high schools, Chamberlain and East Bay, will maintain their mascots after making substantial changes to the depictions of the mascots and the images and ceremonies used in their schools. For the past two years, students and staff have worked with the parent advisory committee to review every element of how they portray Native American cultures. Both schools have made significant changes to images, clothing, traditions and more through this partnership.
Officials said they believe students at the high school level are better prepared to understand the differences and sensitivities around cultures. These cultural details are now part of the learning for students and is the legacy these students are leaving for future students.
Two years ago, the Hillsborough County School Board approved a racial equity policy to ensure students have respectful learning environments where their racial and ethnic diversity is valued. In 2018, Hillsborough County School Board members were recognized with the RISE award, which recognizes innovative strategies in equity. The Hillsborough board was the lone school board to receive the award.
Main photo shows mascots from East Bay High School, left, and Chamberlain High School. Courtesy of Hillsborough County Schools.
Hillsborough Schools | School Mascots | Native Americans | Education | Tampabay News
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