A Utah school district decided not to select a cougar as the mascot of a new high school partly because school officials and some parents believed the word is disrespectful to women.
Students in the Canyons School District named the cougar their top choice to become the mascot of the new Corner Canyon High School. The school is expected to open in 2013.
However, district officials overrode the student vote after complaints that that the word “cougar” is offensive and derogatory towards women.
“We heard from folks who were worried about the connotation of the word ‘cougar’ as it pertains to the current vernacular — in a derogatory manner,” Jennifer Toomer-Cook, a spokesperson for the school district told Fox News & Commentary.
In pop culture, the term “cougar” refers to a sexually aggressive middle-aged woman who attracts younger men.
However, the cougar is also a large mountain cat — that also happens to be the mascot for Brigham Young University — along with three other Utah high schools.
Toomer-Cook said that was the chief reason the district decided to override the students’ vote — even though it was the highest vote-getter out of more than 1,000 suggestions.
Instead, school officials decided to select the “Chargers” as the new mascot. Toomer-Cook said they wanted to have a unique mascot name.
“Instead of going to a place where people were seeing something potentially divisive, go to a mascot that could more easily unify,” she said. “No other Utah school has Chargers as its mascot. The board members were also saying this presents an image of strength and captures a little bit of the area’s culture.”
The controversy caught some local residents by surprise.
“To me, a mascot is usually an animal – I mean, I don’t know how to even respond to that,” local football coach Bill Cosper told the Salt Lake Tribune. “In all my years here, or in all of sports, that’s never been brought up.”