Letter to the editor: Time to scrap outmoded name ‘Jayettes’


To the editor:

Happy International Women’s Day!

March 8 is a “global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women,” as stated at internationalwomensday.com. “The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.” We are challenged to #PressforProgress.

How will you move gender parity forward in 2018?

I will use inclusive language and challenge statements that limit women.

Words matter. Thankfully, we’ve moved beyond policeman and stewardess and other gendered language to gender-neutral terminology.

We speak of “Bluejay Pride” and “Bluejay Leaders” and yet bisect into “Jayettes” and “Bluejays.”

The “ette” is not necessary. It indicates something that is a “smaller version” or of “lesser value” — diminutive or imitation, as in kitchenette, leatherette.

None of us wants to send the message to either the girls and women in our lives or the boys and men — that one group is “lesser.” The message to all is a commitment to gender parity — equality.

Perry is the only Raccoon River Conference school referring to its females with a diminutive term. The women at our three state universities are certainly not Cyclonettes, Hawkeyettes, or Pantherettes.

We’re all Bluejays or Jays — no need for “Lady Jays” or “Gentleman Jays” either. If we persist in segregating into “Jayettes” and “Bluejays,” then does “Bluejay Pride” truly include ALL Perry Bluejays?

“Jayette” is an unneeded distinction.

This in no way diminishes the achievements of decades of Jayettes. I’m not calling for a removal of historical references to Jayettes but pressing for progress to retire “Jayettes” and replace it with the all-inclusive and readily identifiable “Bluejays.”

Our Perry Community School District is forward thinking in other ways. Let’s apply that same vision to move us beyond the archaic and sexist use of “Jayettes.”

I recognize there are costs and logistics involved in changing uniforms and other references. Therefore, in order not to burden the school with costs of immediate changes, I recommend the change happen over time as new uniforms are needed, signs need replacement and the like. Fortunately, in this digital age, many changes can be made instantly and at low to no cost.

What do you say, strong, capable and brave Bluejays of any gender?

Laura Stebbins


    • Thanks for your efforts of over a decade ago. I hope we can get a different result this time around. And I bet there may have been others who have tried to make the change as well. Persist.

  1. It is time, Perry! But there is nothing wrong with Lady Jays. Be proud of being an awesome lady! It’s got my vote. –Patti Hayes Boyle, PHS alumni

  2. I was not aware that this name was a problem. I have been recording Perry girls and boys high school athletics for 22 years and have only heard one person express any concern about the Jayette name. This was a person from Jefferson. Ironically, they were proud to have been a Jeffette. In Vinton the girls athletic teams are still referred to as the Vikettes. –Doug Wood

  3. When six-player basketball went to five-player, part of my heart died. When Bonzy Bluejay’s name was forgotten, and newly-named Perri, I felt violated! I can see both sides of the argument for change here, but it still saddens me to watch some of the warmest traditions in my memories of PHS go by the wayside.


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