California will be the first state to ban public schools from naming their sports teams or mascots “Redskins,” which is a name interpreted as a slur against Native Americans. However, municipalities could still use the name for buildings for Confederate heroes and parks in California, according to Gov. Jerry Brown.
The law Gov. Brown signed Sunday morning goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2017. Four public schools with the mascot will be affected by the law.
Though only four schools will encounter change, the notion is symbolic. NBC News reports that California has the largest number of public school students in the country, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Native Americans celebrated the move. This is a change the National Congress of American Indians said should serve as a “shining example” for the rest of the U.S.
California is the first state in the nation to but a statewide ban on the term’s usage. Although, school districts in Houston, Texas and Madison, Wis. have already done it.
Activists from the group Change the Mascot said in a statement Sunday that “the most populous state in the country has now taken a stand against the use of this insidious slur in its schools.” The group added that California is “standing on the right side of history by bringing an end to the use of demeaning and damaging R-word slur in the state’s schools,” Reuters reports.
The state Assembly approved the California Racial Mascots Act in May. The news came nearly a month after the Obama administration told the Washington Redskins (on record) that their name would need to change in order to move to a Washington, D.C. stadium, NBC News reports.
The U.S. Patent Office agreed in 2014 that the nickname is “disparaging of Native Americans.” They also agreed to cancel the Washington NFL team’s federal trademark protection.