Law & Courts

Ban American Indian School Mascots, Mich. Dept. of Civil Rights Says

By Bryan Toporek — February 11, 2013 1 min read

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights filed a complaint Friday with the U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights (OCR) asking for a ban on the use of American Indian mascots and imagery in K-12 schools that receive federal funds.

The department’s complaint claims that the use of American Indian imagery denies equal rights to American Indian students. It highlights 35 schools in Michigan with American Indian mascots or imagery as the basis of the complaint.

In a supporting argument by Daniel M. Levy, the department’s director of law and policy, the department cites a host of recent research that finds the use of American Indian mascots and imagery result in “actual harm” to current and future American Indian students.

“A growing and unrebutted body of evidence now establishes that the use of American Indian imagery reinforces stereotypes in a way that negatively impacts the potential for achievement by students with American-Indian ancestry,” the supporting argument claims.

The department argues that the sanctioned use of American Indian imagery suggests that stereotyping is acceptable, which “has an indirect negative impact on all students.” It also claims that the use of such imagery “denies equal learning opportunities for some students,” which would violate the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in .

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.