The New York State Department of Education has ordered all public schools in the state to stop using Native American references in team names, logos and mascots by the end of the 2022-23 school year.
CBS News reports that the state's directive to districts characterized the use of Native American-themed imagery in schools as discriminatory.
"School districts that continue to utilize Native American team names, logos, and/or imagery without current approval from a recognized tribe must immediately come into compliance," Senior Deputy Education Commissioner James Baldwin said.
Schools that fail to comply will be considered in violation of New York's Dignity for all Students Act, Baldwin wrote. Consequences for violating the Dignity Act include "the removal of school officers and the withholding of state aid," the memo read.
The Dignity Act, signed into law in 2010, was established to provide students with a supportive school environment, free of discrimination, harassment, intimidation, taunting and bullying.
A 2020 literature review cited in Baldwin's memo found that the use of these names negatively affected Native communities by reinforcing stereotypes. Similarly, the New York Association of School Psychologists determined that the use of Indigenous imagery caused harm to both Native and non-Native students.
The only circumstances in which schools will be allowed to continue using Native imagery is if they get permission from the affected tribe, the state says.