Wisconsin Poised to Change Law Regarding High School Mascots

Supporters of change say current law makes it too easy to object to Native American mascots.
MADISON -- While the nation debates whether the NFL football team the Washington Redskins should drop their team name because some find it offensive to Native Americans, Wisconsin appears to be moving in the other direction.  A bill on Gov. Scott Walker's desk would make it more difficult for schools to drop Indian-oriented mascots.

Some said the change was needed because the current law makes it ridiculously easy to object to a mascot.  Just one complaint was needed for the mascot to be subject to review by the State Superintendent's office.  If a decision was made that the mascot must be changed, a school could face fines of up to $1000/day if it did not comply.

The new legislation would require a petition with at least 10% of the student population of the school district objecting to the mascot followed by a formal hearing.  Supporters of the bill say the process is more fair and re-establishes the concept of local control of schools.

Another reason why some school districts don't like the current law is because of cost.  The Mukwango School District estimated changing their 'Indians' mascot would cost somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000.  There are also feelings of tradition and school pride tied to mascots supporters say are not meant to be racist or promote discrimination or harassment.

Opponents of the change have argued public school mascots should not be offensive to anyone, and ones depicting Native Americans are offensive to many and promote stereotypes.  Ideally, they would prefer that no schools or sports teams use Native American mascots or logos.  The NCAA has also been very aggressive about eliminating Indian-oriented nicknames and imagery at the college level,

They remain immensely popular, however, with thousands of Indian-oriented mascots populating sports teams at the professional, college and high school levels. 
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