Hillsborough Schools Ensures all Schools Are Welcoming By Changing Mascots at Six Schools
For Immediate Release
Contact: Tanya Arja
Office of Communications
Hillsborough Schools Ensures all Schools Are Welcoming
By Changing Mascots at Six Schools
Tampa, Fla. – (May 13, 2019) – Students, staff and families at six Hillsborough County Public Schools have an exciting opportunity to choose a new mascot for their school.
Working with a parent advisory group representing the Native American community, all six schools have committed to choosing a new mascot for the future. The five elementary schools and one middle school have been using Native American images as their mascots.
The current mascots do not respect every culture and every person in our communities. Using Native American images and mascots can easily reduce living human beings to the level of a cartoon, caricature or stereotype. Even when there is no bad intent, these images can carry on and spread some of the symbols of the most painful parts of our great country’s history.
Over the next few days, students, staff and families at each school will provide suggestions for their new mascot. A ballot will then be sent home, allowing each student and staff member to vote for their favorite choice among a group of final names.
The six schools: Adams Middle School, Brooker Elementary, Forest Hills Elementary, Ruskin Elementary, Summerfield Elementary and Thonotosassa Elementary will choose a new mascot that is welcoming to everyone and doesn’t make anyone feel like they’re not respected at our schools.
Two area high schools, Chamberlain and East Bay, will maintain their mascots after making substantial changes to the depictions of the mascots and the images and ceremonies used in their schools. For the past two years, students and staff have worked with the parent advisory committee to review every element of how they portray Native American cultures. Both schools have made significant changes to images, clothing, traditions and more through this partnership.
We believe students at the high school level are better prepared to understand the differences and sensitivities around cultures. These cultural details are now part of the learning for students and is the legacy these students are leaving for future students.
Two years ago, our School Board approved a Racial Equity Policy for our schools to ensure students have respectful learning environments where their racial and ethnic diversity is valued. In 2018, Hillsborough County School Board members were recognized with the RISE award, which recognizes innovative strategies in equity. The award was given to one school board in the nation.