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Hillsborough County schools moving away from mascots using Native American images

Posted at 4:06 PM, May 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-13 23:17:53-04

TAMPA, Fla. -- Several schools in Hillsborough County will be either changing mascots, or altering them to remove Native American images.

Five elementary schools and one middle school that have been using Native American images as mascots have committed to choosing a new mascot for the future.

Those schools are Adams Middle School, Brooker Elementary, Forest Hills Elementary, Ruskin Elementary, Summerfield Elementary and Thonotosassa Elementary.

“All a bunch of bull crap. I mean, it really is. It’s not right. It’s part of our heritage here," said parent and Adams alumna Sheri Story.

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Two high schools in the county, Chamberlain and East Bay, will maintain their current mascots after making substantial changes to the images and ceremonies used in their schools.

Chamberlain High junior Caitlyn Diaz is on board with the changes and says she's already noticed changes within her school.

“Especially if it’s going to be something that’s beneficial to the people around us if it is offending anyone," said Diaz. "It’ll be changed and people will feel more comfortable with it."

"The current mascots do not respect every culture and every person in our communities. Using Native American images and mascots can easily reduce living human beings to the level of a cartoon, caricature or stereotype," Hillsborough County Schools 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 our great country’s history."

Two years ago, the school board approved a racial equity policy for the schools to ensure students have respectful learning environments where their racial and ethnic diversity is valued.

"We believe students at the high school level are better prepared to understand the differences and sensitivities around cultures," the district said. "These cultural details are now part of the learning for students and is the legacy these students are leaving for future students."