Two schools have canceled lacrosse games against the Lancaster High School as the Lancaster District debates whether to change the Redskins sports name.
The Akron Central Schools Superintendent Kevin Shanely said the district has canceled the March 31 boys' variety lacrosse game against Lancaster in support of Native Americans who view the nickname as offensive. Lake Shore Central School District has also made the same decision.
Akron schools are located near the Tonawanda Indian Reservation, with students from the Reservation attending the district schools. Lake Shore has students from the nearby Cattaraugus Reservation. The schools say a majority of their lacrosse players are Native American.
Earlier this week the Lancaster School District held a public form to gather input from the community on the Redskins name.
Lancaster Schools issued the following statement in response to the cancelation of the games:
"There have always been very high expectations placed upon our students and student athletes to represent our school district well, both within our community and when traveling outside the 42-square mile boundaries of this community. Our student athletes have proven to be commendable on and off the field. We consistently receive positive feedback from coaches, referees, and athletic directors on the respectful manner in which our athletes project themselves and their sportsmanlike behavior. Additionally, last year, every single one of our varsity athletic teams was named a Scholar Athlete Team by the New York Public High School Athletic Association, and as such, Lancaster High School was named a NYSPHAA School of Distinction. Our student athlete leaders also have a long-standing tradition of visiting our elementary schools to promote the values of teamwork and dedication to our younger generation. Lancaster is not a hurtful community and the Redskins mascot has been part of a proud heritage that has been with the community for more than 60 years. One of the many things discovered in our public forum on March 3 is that our community never intended this name and mascot to be viewed as derogatory in any way. However, we know that the world is very different place than it was back in 1952 when our school first adopted the Redskin name as its new mascot. Consequently, we have been working very proactively with our student leadership, through various channels, to build a level of sensitivity and awareness that what they may perceive as a title of pride and honor is not necessarily viewed in the same way by others, especially many in the Native American community. Lancaster Central School District certainly respects the diverse views of others. Specifically, students in a neighboring school district who have decided to take a stand against a mascot they, themselves, find to be offensive and derogatory in nature. We have every confidence in the curriculum department, faculty, and student leadership that, as we continue this process of educating ourselves on the other connotations of the term Redskin and build a context for understanding conflicting points of view, the students will have a wider lens with which to view the issue. I hope the Native American community understands that while the mascot is still in place at Lancaster High School, we have worked diligently to treat it with respect and honor, removing any stereotypical behaviors and images, and I would implore their patience and understanding as we continue to educate our students and our community.
Our mission statement is very clear, our “purpose is to provide our students with a comprehensive educational program that will allow them to develop fully the necessary academic and social skills to become responsible and productive members of a democratic society.” By its very essence, our job is to educate students to be productive and responsible in TODAY’s world. In order to do so, we must teach them to respect points of view that are not congruent with their own; we must give them the tools to interact in a diverse, global society. Times have changed dramatically in the last six decades when you look at a myriad social issues that have evolved during that time. We think, in general, our district has demonstrated our willingness to be at the forefront in education in all realms. While it may be an uncomfortable role to play, addressing this issue is part and parcel of who we are as educators. We will continue to have a respectful and open-minded conversation about the mascot issue and we ask all parties who are involved in the process to continue to mirror a level of respect and dignity, as they as well are role models for our students."