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Shawnee Mission schools under pressure to change mascot

November 30, 2020 GMT

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — The Shawnee Mission school district is looking at making changes to mascots that use Native American imagery after thousands of people — including current and former students — signed a petition seeking to have the Shawnee Mission North High School drop its Indians name and mascot.

More than 3,300 people signed a Change.org petition this summer urging the district to change the mascot —an image of a Native American chief in full feather headdress — by the school’s 100th anniversary in 2022. There also have been protests, including several marches near the high school. A counter protest has seen 2,400 people sign a petition in favor of keeping the mascot.

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The coronavirus pandemic stalled the district’s response this year, the Kansas City Star reported. But district officials now say a committee set to meet Thursday will take steps to review how other districts have implemented mascot policies.

“I have reflected a lot back on our own nondiscrimination (policy) language, and a part of me feels like some of the mascots we have is already a violation of our own policy,” school board member Jessica Hembree said during the meeting earlier this month.

Calls for such changes have grown more insistent across the country in recent years, leading schools and professional sports teams to drop offensive names and mascots that either pull from or pervert Native American culture.