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October 22, 2021 2:26 pm

Massachusetts State Senate Passes Bill Requiring Education About Genocide, Amid ‘Misuse’ of Holocaust Language

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Massachusetts State Senate passed a bill  Thursday requiring students in grades 6-12 to learn about the history of genocide and the Holocaust, drawing praise from Jewish groups and lawmakers.

Motivated by fears that students knew little about the Holocaust during a time of rising antisemitism, according to local news report, Bill S. 327 would create a Genocide Education Trust Fund to cover expenses for training, new educational content, and competitive grants.

The legislation received a renewed push after a March controversy in which a Massachusetts high school football team was found to have used Holocaust-related language in its on-field play-call system.

Robert Trestan, Director of ADL New England, commended the legislative body for using the “power of education to address hate.”

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“This year, we have seen stark reminders of the need for genocide education as Holocaust terminology has been misused in our community on athletic fields and in the public square,” he said in a statement shared on Twitter.

The Duxbury High School football team was accused of using terms like “Auschwitz” while calling plays on the field, leading to its coach’s firing.

“We appreciate the leadership of Senate President Spilka, Senate Ways and Means Chair Rodrigues, and their legislative colleagues for taking this critical step toward ensuring that Massachusetts public school students receive Holocaust and genocide education prior to high school graduation,” Trestan continued.

On Thursday, Senate President Karen Spilka said the Senate had a “responsibility” to pass Bill S. 327.

“As a Jewish woman and the daughter of a World War II veteran who saw the horrors of a concentration camp firsthand,” she said, “I believe it is our responsibility to ensure we educate our children on the many instances of genocide throughout history so that they can learn why it is so important that this history is not repeated.”

The bill now awaits a final vote in the state House of Representatives.

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