With the launch of the U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, the U.S. Department of Education recently introduced its Antisemitism Awareness Campaign among the first deliverables of the campaign. The effort seeks to ensure that all students – including Jewish students – can attend schools free from discrimination, including harassment.
“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 Miguel Cardona. “No student should have to face discrimination or harassment because of their race, color, national origin, or shared ancestry, such as Jewish ancestry, or ethnic characteristics.”
As part of the campaign, the Department’s Office for Civil Rights released a Dear Colleague Letter reminding schools of their legal obligations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to provide all students, including students who are or are perceived to be Jewish, a school environment free from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin, including shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics, or citizenship or residency in a country with a dominant religion or religious identity.
Schools must take immediate and appropriate action to respond to harassment that creates a hostile environment. OCR generally finds that a hostile environment exists where there is harassing conduct that is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent so as to interfere with or limit the ability of an individual to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by a school.
The letter is one of several resources released by OCR to support schools in complying with their obligations under Title VI to address discrimination based on shared ancestry and ethnic characteristics. The letter highlights additional resources in this area, including a fact sheet titled, “Protecting Students from Discrimination Based on Shared Ancestry or Ethnic Characteristics,” released in January 2023. Additional resources are available on the Shared Ancestry or Ethnic Characteristics page of OCR’s website. Information about recently resolved complaints under Title VI, including complaints alleging antisemitism, is available here.
Learn more about the campaign and additional actions that will be part of it in the full news release.