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Education Department Launches Antisemitism Awareness Campaign

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has launched its Antisemitism Awareness Campaign to ensure all students – including Jewish students – are able to attend schools free from discrimination and harassment. This comes as the Biden-Harris Administration issues the first-ever U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism.Dr. Miguel CardonaDr. Miguel Cardona

ED’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has released a Dear Colleague Letter reminding schools of their legal obligations under Title VI to provide all students a school environment free from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, shared ancestry, ethnic characteristics, or citizenship or residency in a country with a dominant religion or religious identity. The letter also mentions other resources, such as a fact sheet, Protecting Students from Discrimination Based on Shared Ancestry or Ethnic Characteristics.

"Antisemitism has no place in our society, and I am proud that the Department will continue to use all available tools to prevent and address antisemitic discrimination in our nation’s schools," said U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel A. Cardona. "No student should have to face discrimination or harassment because of their race, color, national origin, shared ancestry, such as Jewish ancestry, or ethnic characteristics. The U.S. Department of Education is a civil rights agency committed to ensuring all students have access to learning environments that are welcoming, inclusive, and free of discrimination, and we are honored to unveil this awareness campaign as part of the Biden-Harris administration's National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism."

OCR defines a hostile environment as a place where harassing conduct is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent so as to interfere with or limit the ability of someone to participate in or benefit from school services, activities, or privileges. In such cases, schools must take action.

"Our office has a longstanding commitment to addressing antisemitic discrimination, including harassment, in the nation’s schools through the enforcement of federal civil rights law," said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon. "Through this Dear Colleague Letter, we seek to ensure that school communities throughout the United States know and fulfill their federal obligations to ensure that Jewish students can access their education without discrimination."

As part of this campaign, ED will also:

·       continue to collect data on allegations of harassment or bullying based on religion;

·        continue to offer technical assistance to schools and community organizations about Title VI;

·        visit K-12 schools, colleges, and universities institutions either addressing or suffering from antisemitism;

·        disseminate information about efforts and resources to combat antisemitism;

·        highlight inclusive strategies for schools;

·        promote opportunities to help schools improve accommodation of religious observances.

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