U.S. Department Of Education Issues Questions And Answers On Combating Anti-Semitism

CATEGORY: Public Education Matters
CLIENT TYPE: Public Education
DATE: Feb 25, 2021

The U.S. Department of Education released a Question and Answer technical assistance document on January 19, 2021. The guidance provides assistance regarding Executive Order 13899 (Combating Anti-Semitism) and the Department’s Office for Civil Rights’ enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

President Trump signed Executive Order 13899 on December 11, 2019. The Executive Order reaffirmed the statutory anti-discrimination protections of Title VI, which prohibit race, color, and national origin discrimination in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. The Executive Order stated that although Title VI does not cover discrimination based on religion, individuals who face discrimination based on race, color, or national origin do not lose protection under Title VI for also being a member of a group that shares common religious practices. The Executive Order did not define anti-Semitism but stated federal agencies shall consider the definition of anti-Semitism adopted on May 26, 2016, by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which defined anti-Semitism as, “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.

The Department’s Questions and Answers stated the Executive Order did not change how OCR will handle complaints of discrimination involving anti-Semitism, and OCR has long recognized that anti-Semitism may violate Title VI. OCR’s webpage provides further details about Title VI’s protections against discrimination involving both shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics and religion. OCR will continue to investigate anti-Semitism consistent with OCR’s jurisdictional authority, case processing procedures, the applicable Title VI legal framework, and constitutional principles. However, the Questions and Answers further state OCR will enforce all civil rights laws under its jurisdiction without restricting speech or expression protected by the U.S. Constitution and has made clear that schools working to prevent discrimination must respect the free speech rights of students, faculty, and others.

Read the Questions and Answers here.

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