California became the first state in the U.S. to ban public high schools from using Redskins as a team name or mascot on Sunday. The ban, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, will go into effect in 2017 and, the Associated Press reports, will force four high schools to change their name from the term considered offensive by Native Americans.
“This landmark legislation eliminating the R-word in California schools clearly demonstrates that this issue is not going away, and that opposition to the Washington team on this issue is only intensifying. The NFL should act immediately to press the team to change the name,” leaders of the advocacy group Change the Mascot said in a statement. The move comes as pressure has increased in recent years on NFL’s Washington franchise to change its name. Earlier this year, a federal judge ordered the team’s trademark on the name be cancelled because “disparaging” terms are ineligible for trademarking.
The superintendent of Tulare Joint Union High School District, one of the four schools to still use the name, said school officials were “disappointed” by the ban, but would change name. The superintendent of Chowchilla Union High School District, another of the remaining four schools, was less willing to accept the ban. “You don’t pick a mascot that you don’t respect, dignify, love, honor, all those things,” he said. “It’s just taking away something that’s so near and dear to their hearts … and by people who don’t even live here.”