Introduced by Representatives Larson of Burlington, Howrigan of Fairfield and Kitzmiller of Montpelier
Subject: Education; public schools; Native American symbols
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to prohibit the use of Native American‑related symbols to represent a school.
AN ACT RELATING TO PROHIBITION AGAINST USING A NATIVE AMERICAN-RELATED SYMBOL TO REPRESENT A SCHOOL
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. FINDINGS
The General Assembly finds that:
(1) The use of racially derogatory or discriminatory school or athletic team names, mascots, or nicknames in Vermont public schools is antithetical to the Vermont school mission of providing an equal education to all;
(2) Certain athletic team names, mascots, and nicknames that have been and remain in use by athletic teams, including school teams, in other parts of the nation are discriminatory in singling out the Native American community for the derision to which mascots or nicknames are often subjected;
(3) Many individuals and organizations interested and experienced in human relations have concluded that the use of Native American images and names in school sports is a barrier to equality and understanding, and that all residents of the United States would benefit from the discontinuance of their use; and
(4) No individual or school has a cognizable interest in retaining a racially derogatory or discriminatory school or athletic team name, mascot, or nickname.
Sec. 2. 16 V.S.A. § 15 is added to read:
§ 15. SCHOOL SYMBOLS; NATIVE AMERICAN‑RELATED
(a) In this section, “educational institution” means a Vermont public or independent school or a postsecondary school that offers or operates a program of college or professional education for credit or degree in Vermont.
(b) No educational institution shall use any of the following Native American references as a nickname, symbol, logo or mascot to represent the school or any portion of the school, such as a team: savage, redskin, Indian, brave, chief, chieftain, squaw, papoose, warrior accompanied by Native American imagery, any other Native American tribal or national name unless express permission is given by specific enactment or resolution of the governing body of the tribe or nation, or any other Native American imagery deemed racially derogatory or discriminatory pursuant to subsection (c) of this section.
(c) The governor shall appoint a commission on Native American affairs which shall develop a list of terms deemed racially derogatory or discriminatory to Native Americans and shall adopt the list by rule. Following adoption, the commission shall give the list to the commissioner who shall post the list on the departmental website.
(d) Violation of this section is a violation of chapter 139 of Title 9 and may be subject to the enforcement and civil action procedures set forth in section 4506 of Title 9.
Sec. 3. EFFECTIVE DATE; TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS
(a) This act shall take effect on November 1, 2006.
(b) Following passage of this act, an educational institution may continue to use uniforms or other materials bearing a school or athletic team name, logo, mascot, or nickname prohibited in this act, provided the educational institution:
(1) purchased or acquired the uniforms or materials prior to the effective date of the act;
(2) has selected a new school or athletic team name, mascot, nickname, or logo; and
(3) does not use the name, logo, mascot, or nickname on any new school uniform, yearbook, newspaper, sign, marquee, or other materials purchased or produced following passage of this act.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street