Gustine High School forced to change school mascot

GUSTINE, Calif. (KFSN) -- Gustine High School has been around for more than 100 years. For a majority of that time, they've been the Redskins-- a name that must now be changed under the California Racial Mascots Act.

"Nobody came to our town, asked us if anyone was being offended or upset by this," said mother and Gustine alumni Sherri Marsigli.

Marsigli calls AB 30 ambiguous and flawed and believes it will affect more schools in the future. She also thinks it will negatively impact current Gustine students. "Warriors, Braves, Chiefs, they're going to go after everybody and it's absolutely ludicrous," Marsigli said.

"I don't want to lose our mascot, it's a part of me," said Gustine cheerleader Nicole Cunha. "We're going to be graduating as Redskins, and after this, there's no more if we lose it. It's not going to be the same."

"This is law, and we feel as a public institution we are mandated to follow the law," said Gustine Unified Superintendent Bill Morones.

But Morones says that will be costly. And during Monday night's study session on the bill, the district's counsel said it's not clear how much money will be reimbursed by the state. That was an unsettling prospect for most in the room. "But you have to sometimes let things go," said Gustine citizen Melanie Gomes. "We can be prideful in being something else. It sucks for those of you in school right now because you're in midway, but let's move on let's make the transition on the gym floor and the uniforms, so on and so forth, and stick them with the bill."

Gustine's Mayor Dennis Brazil says the city will support any referendum effort-- the paperwork of which must be filed within 90 days of the bill being signed. "We're going to show them that in numbers, in force, we will speak up and fight back," said Brazil.

It may be a long and uphill battle, but students too, are determined to save their redskin. They say the name represents pride, not racism. "We always say redskin pride, together we come together as one tribe," said Gustine student Sebastian Figueroa. "And that's where the fight can't stop."

In closed session, the board did not take any action. They were told by their counsel that they are prohibited from using board money to support a possible referendum but say they will continue to explore options for dealing with this law.

The law also applies to Chowchilla, Tulare Union, and Calaveras High School.
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