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Washington's NFL team may still use it, but in California, high schools no longer will be able to use nickname "Redskins." Photo by Flickr user Keith Allison

California bans public schools from using ‘Redskins’ name

California became the first U.S. state to ban “Redskins” as a team name or mascot.

On Sunday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the California Racial Mascots Act, or AB30, which effectively bars public schools from using the term, a word many consider a slur, starting Jan. 1, 2017.

The schools are allowed to use uniforms and other materials that bear the name and mascot until they need to be replaced, but they would need to decide on a new official mascot and team name by the new year.

The decision affects four public high schools in the state: Calaveras High School in Calaveras County, Chowchilla Union High School in Madera County, Gustine High School in Merced County and Tulare Union High School in Tulare County, where one school board member told KQED that “there’s enough evidence to say it’s a respectful term, at least in our community.”

The nonprofit group Change the Mascot and the National Congress of American Indians called the move a “shining example” for other U.S. states.

“We applaud and extend our deepest gratitude to AB-30 author Assemblyman Luis Alejo, Governor Jerry Brown, and California’s lawmakers for standing on the right side of history by bringing an end to the use of the demeaning and damaging R-word slur in the state’s schools,” they said in a joint statement.

California’s new law speaks to the larger national conversation surrounding the Washington Redskins and the mounting pressure on the NFL football team to change its name. The team’s owner, Dan Snyder, is persistent in his refusal to change the name.

In June 2014, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the NFL team’s trademark, saying that it was “disparaging of Native Americans.”

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