2010/02/25: WisPolitics: Assembly approves bill on race-based mascots

 WisPolitics reports: The Wisconsin Assembly voted 51-42 Thursday, Feb. 25, to approve legislation that could require schools to drop race-based nicknames, logos or mascots if a district resident complained to the state.

Republicans objected Tuesday to a final vote on the bill, forcing today's vote. They also objected to messaging the bill to the Senate to delay further action as GOP members complained over what they said was the oversensitivity of some and allowing a state bureacrat to weigh in on a local issue over a school's mascot.

Rep. Bill Kramer, R-Waukesha, said he is a member of the Red Cliff Chippewa Indians and questioned why mascots were creating such a furor, adding Methodists don't raise objections to Wake Forest's mascot the Demon Deacons.

"Aren't there bigger issues for the Native Americans to worry about?" Kramer said.

Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, mocked the idea that just one person being offended would be enough to nix a district's mascot as a ridiculously low standard. He said he was sure at least someone in the room was offended at his tie.

That drew a sharp rebuke from Rep. Tamara Grigsby, D-Milwaukee.

"Are you seriously going to compare a tie, being offended by a tie to a name or to a title or to a word that may carry years of oppression or years of genocide? Are you seriously going to do that?" Grigsby said.



In Wisconsin, more than 30 school districts have race-based mascots or logos. But that may change if the Legislature passes a bill allowing people to file complaints alleging the mascots promote discrimination or stereotyping. The state Assembly was to vote Tuesday on the bill, AB 35, but Rep. Stephen Nass, a Whitewater Republican, objected to a final reading. That means the earliest the Assembly can take it up again would be Thursday.

If it's passed by both houses and signed into law, school districts that fail to stop using mascots found to promote discrimination would face monetary penalties.

(WNPJ board member) Barbara Munson, chairwoman of the Wisconsin Indian Education Association's Indian mascot and logo task force, said for years school districts have been warned such mascots are damaging to Native American children.

Read the State Journal story here.

AP story on delay.