January 9 2017
Jillian Kay Melchior
Last week, a Kentucky school district dropped a new high school’s Stallions mascot after an online petition claimed it was “inappropriate and sexist.” Now, a new petition is calling for the mascot’s reinstatement—and it has already gained about 10 times the signatures as the original one seeking a gender-neutral replacement.
“We feel our society has become too sensitive to such matters as simple as a school mascot,” says the new petition, which has garnered the support of more than 2,100 people. “The point of the Stallions was not to denounce women, but to honor the rich history of the land the school is being built upon.”
As the new petition notes, Frederick Douglass High School’s property was once used to breed racehorses, including several that won the Kentucky Derby.
The new petition suggests using “Lady Stallions” for female athletic teams. Nearly 100 NCAA schools similarly use “lady” nicknames, but there’s been growing opposition about that, too.
At the University of Delaware, the University of Tennessee and elsewhere, critics have denounced the “lady” female athletic team designations as sexist. And a Vanderbilt professor specializing in race, gender and sports said the “lady” team names are “harmful” because they convey that “physical appearance has to be in tune with the standards of what we call hegemonic femininity.”
In an emailed statement, Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said the district decided to abandon the Stallions because “we certainly don’t want the selection of a mascot to become a divisive issue for our community.” The original petition denouncing the Stallions gained just 214 signatures.
Acknowledging the site’s history, the districts is now considering changing the mascot to the Thoroughbreds or the Racers.
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.