On Thursday, the Houston Independent School District Board of Education voted 7-0 with one abstention and one member absent to approve the second reading of a policy update to prohibit the use of any race or ethnic group as a mascot or nickname.
This policy update affects four schools — Lamar High School Redskins, Westbury High School Rebels, Hamilton Middle School Indians and Welch Middle School Warriors.
During the 2014-2015 school year, each school will be required to select a new mascot and respectfully retire its existing mascot. HISD administration will work closely with the affected schools to help them retire their mascots with respect and dignity, taking into consideration the history and tradition surrounding them.
“We realize – especially after the December meeting – that this is an issue which brings out deep emotions on both sides,” said Chief School Support Officer Drew Houlihan. “While traditions are important, they do not trump kindness and respect. We owe that both to the students at these schools and to the community at large.”
The push to retire the mascots gained momentum in late 2013. In an opinion piece published in the Houston Chronicle, HISD Superintendent Terry Grier applauded the efforts of Sen. Rodney Ellis and the Anti-Defamation League for championing the issue.