CUYAHOGA HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) – The Cuyahoga Heights Schools Board of Education unanimously passed the resolution to retire the district’s Redskins mascot Wednesday night.
The resolution calls for the district to immediately end use of the Redskins name and Indian head logo, and to remove both from school surfaces and uniforms as they are replaced.
“After talking to Native Americans and seeing how hurtful that was and then doing some research, it just point blank is a racial slur and we don’t want to be identified in that fashion,” superintendent Tom Evans said.
The resolution stated the mascot was adopted in the early 1940s and originally intended to honor Native Americans. It stated the term is now widely recognized as an offensive racial slur.
The decision comes as professional sports teams, including the former Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians, have changed their names.
Evans said Cuyahoga Heights was considering a change even before that, with school board members meeting with Native American groups over the last two years.
“I just think that reaffirmed what the board was doing because, quite honestly, this board started the discussion before the pro teams did,” Evans said.
The topic has sparked division within the community, including at a June public meeting about the change, with some voicing support for the move and others opposed to retiring the Redskins mascot.
“My siblings have gone here, my children have gone here, my grandchildren now go here and I will stand here with this and tell you how proud I am to have the term Redskin and the emblem. Very proud, it’s not disrespectful,” said one woman who spoke against changing the name.
“I ask you this… What’s different than calling ourselves the Blackskins or the Whiteskins? There’s no difference. We’re calling ourselves the Redskins and saying that it’s OK when it’s not,” said a student to address school board members.
“For a district that’s really highly unified in most things, this is highly polarizing,” Evans said.
Evans said the district will involve the community as it takes time to consider a replacement mascot. In the meantime, he said the district will simply use “Heights.”
“This is not about trying to make anybody forget or discount any of those memories,” Evans said. “It’s time to make a change. Let’s make a change for the positive and move forward as a school district.”