ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Six Hillsborough County public schools are changing their mascots to reflect a more racially and culturally appropriate image.
- READ: Maryland CNS study of schools removing mascots
- LINK: National Congress of American Indians opposition to mascots
- READ: Supreme Court ruling on offensive trademarks
- RELATED: Hillsborough Schools Planning Native American Mascot Changes
Two high schools in the area are keeping Native American images after working with a parent advisory group and the Native American community.
A representative told Spectrum Bay News 9 why they didn't change the mascots for the high-schoolers.
"Let's start at the grassroots and go up, because these little kids are the ones that are moving forward to be our future," said Jaymie Perez from Hillsborough Schools' Parent Advisory group. "They are going to be the next ones that don't have the prejudices that some of the high school students have been ingrained with."
School officials said a recent Racial Equity Policy is creating teachable moments on campus.
The mascot change is just one of the initiatives.
It will cost the district $75,000 to change the mascots at the six schools.
Hillsborough school leaders will ask students, staff and families for their help in choosing a new mascot.
A ballot will be sent home with a list of mascots to vote on.
Nationwide, at the high school level, there’s a trend to change the racially sensitive symbols.
It's been happening for the last several years.
A 2013 report by Maryland's Capital News Service found 28 schools have changed their mascots and dropped the controversial Redskins name, which is deemed a derogatory term toward Native Americans.
But if schools are changing, why aren't the professional sports mascots such as the controversial Washington Redskins following suit?
The NFL team won't have to change their mascot because of a unanimous Supreme Court ruling in 2017 not involving the team.
It said the government could not prohibit someone from registering a trademark even if it disparages persons, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols.
Creating that kind of policy would be a violation of the First Amendment.
So as polarizing as the word Redskins is, when used as branding it is within constitutional rights.
It's going to have to be fans who ask the team to change.