High school mascots not changing

LANSING — Our high school mascots are not changing

Gladstone High School will remain the home of the Braves.

The same goes for the Escanaba Eskymos and North Dickinson Nordics.

Recently, a Democratic state senator from Detroit submitted legislation calling for the elimination of all school mascots that are “race or ethnicity-based.” If this legislation became law, school districts would have to petition the state Department of Education and Department of Civil Rights for a waiver. If not, school districts could lose state funding.

This ridiculous bill will not become law.

When I was elected to the state House, it was to bring Upper Peninsula values to the Capitol and not to have Lansing or Detroit or anyone else dictate what is best for us. This is yet another example of someone forcing their ideals onto us with the added insult of removing funding for our hard-working teachers and likely closing our schools on the kids.

Let me be clear — I have heard absolutely no complaints, at public events throughout the district or to my office, from U.P. residents demanding we change any of our high school mascots. Although I expect this terrible legislation not to advance in the state Legislature, I’ll fight it every step of the way if it does.

This bill is just another weak attempt at forcing political correctness onto us, typically from individuals or organizations that could not find Escanaba, Gladstone or Felch on the map much less know how these communities honor and celebrate their local schools’ mascot.

Attempts to force high schools to change their beloved mascots has been tried and failed before, over and over again.

In 2013, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights lodged a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education to end such mascots in our state’s schools. It was dismissed.

In 2017, the Paw Paw High School Board of Education voted to keep its Redskins mascot, despite added pressure from the state to make a change.

Also in 2017, state school Superintendent Brian Whiston unilaterally decided to ask the state’s attorney general for a legal opinion regarding the removal of a district’s state funding if it refused to remove a mascot that could be deemed by bureaucrats as culturally insensitive. The AG’s findings stated Whiston could not do so.

And now, the effort has reached to legislation despite all previous efforts failing one way or another. While I can admire the persistence, it’s misplaced, wrong and disregards the values we have for our heritage in the U.P.

We cannot all be Mountaineers, Jets, Maroons and Eagles. Instead, we should be able to choose to be Braves, Nordics and Eskymos.

Regardless of the mascot, they are featured with respect on our schools, stitched onto the sport teams’ uniforms and displayed throughout our community. The students wear the mascots with pride on their varsity jackets and it’s even featured in signs welcoming visitors to our communities.

We honor and respect our mascots here. They are born from our heritage and history, kept as part of our tradition.

When you threaten our values with the added insult of closing our schools, you’re in for a fight. I’ll make sure that everyone at the state Capitol hears that loud and clear.

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State Rep. Beau LaFave, of Iron Mountain, represents the people of Delta, Dickinson and Menominee counties.