DENVER, CO– The House today advanced a bill sponsored by Reps. Adrienne Benavidez and Barbara McLachlan to ban American Indian mascots in Colorado public schools. The bill passed on Second Reading.
“The effort to ban the use of discriminatory mascots in Colorado’s public schools has been in the works for a very long time,” said Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, D-Adams County. “A 2016 commission on the subject confirmed that these discriminatory caricatures create hostile environments and impact the mental health and learning opportunities of American Indian students. These mascots have to go.”
“My district is enriched by the presence of the Southern Ute tribe, and I won’t allow American Indian students to be made to feel less than because of an outdated and discriminatory school mascot,” said Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango. “As legislators, we have an obligation to create positive learning environments for Colorado’s kids, and banning American Indian mascots is a straightforward way to remove a barrier for Indigenous Coloradans.”
SB21-116, sponsored by Reps. Benavidez and McLachlan, prohibits the use of American Indian mascots in any public school or institution of higher education, allowing one year to comply.
This bill follows up on the work of the 2016 Governor’s Commission to Study American Indian Representations in Public Schools which was asked to “facilitate discussion around
the use of American Indian imagery and names used by institutions of public education and develop recommendations for the Governor and General Assembly regarding the use of such imagery and names.” The Commission’s number one recommendation was “the elimination of American Indian mascots, imagery, and names, particularly those that are clearly derogatory and offensive, and strongly recommends that communities review their depictions in facilitated public forums.” SB21-116 puts this recommendation into action.