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California First State to Ban ‘Redskins’ for Sports Teams

Public schools may no longer use the controversial nickname for any athletics

California has become the first state to ban the use of the name “Redskins,” used most prominently by the NFL’s Washington franchise, for all public school sports teams.

Assembly Bill 30, or  The California Racial Mascots Act, will prohibit public schools from using the term “Redskins” as a school or athletic team name, mascot or nickname beginning Jan. 1, 2017. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill into law on Sunday.

Native American advocacy group Change the Mascot applauded the decision, saying that California is now “standing on the right side of history.”

“The most populous state in the country has now taken a stand against the use of this insidious slur in its schools, and Change the Mascot expects more states to follow,” the group said in a press release. “This landmark legislation eliminating the R-word in California schools clearly demonstrates that this issue is not going away, and that opposition to the Washington team on this issue is only intensifying. The NFL should act immediately to press the team to change the name.”

However, Brown also vetoed a measure that would outlaw naming public spaces after Confederate heroes from the Civil War.

“Recently we saw a national movement to remove the Confederate flag from state capitols in the South, a long overdue action,” Brown said according to Reuters. “This bill, however, strikes me as different and an issue quintessentially for local decision makers.”

Controversy around the name has focused mainly on its NFL incarnation, but in recent years individual school districts have passed measures outlawing it for public school teams. The school district of Houston, Texas, outlawed the name in Apr. 2014, while Madison, Wisconsin, outlawed it in May 2015.

Despite repeated criticism, Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has refused to change the team’s name, which he contends honors Native Americans. That conflicts with a letter signed by half of the U.S. Senate and criticism by President Barack Obama, along with opposition from numerous civil rights organizations.

Representatives for the Washington Redskins did not immediately return TheWrap’s request for comment.