House passes bill to create
Genocide and Holocaust Education Commission
STATE HOUSE – A month after President Biden became the first American President to recognize the Armenian genocide, the House of Representatives today passed legislation sponsored by Rep. Rebecca Kislak to create a permanent commission to promote and continually improve genocide and Holocaust education in schools.
The legislation formalizes a commission to implement a 2016 law introduced by House Majority Whip Katherine S. Kazarian and Sen. Gayle L. Goldin to require public schools to teach students about genocide and the Holocaust.
“So many Rhode Islanders’ families are from communities that have been impacted by genocides. Listening to each other’s stories and learning about those diverse histories will help us see the humanity in one another and build stronger communities. This bill will establish a commission to provide support to our educators and raise awareness of genocides that have affected Rhode Islanders and have shaped our communities’ histories,” said Representative Kislak (D-Dist. 4, Providence).
Under the bill, the Holocaust and Genocide Education Commission will gather and disseminate Holocaust and genocide information, work with the Department of Education to update and promote statewide Holocaust and genocide education programs, and promote public awareness of issues relating to Holocaust and genocide education.
“As hate crimes have been rising in our own country over the last few years, it’s particularly important that students are taught about the catastrophic atrocities that have been committed when the seeds of hate are planted,” said Representative Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence), who is cosponsoring this bill. All eight of her great-grandparents are survivors of the Armenian genocide. “My family’s own history involving the Armenian genocide has shown me that these events in history should never be forgotten. It is important that our children recognize and understand how such terrible events can occur in society, and more importantly, how to stop them from happening.”
Rep. Nathan W. Biah Sr. (D-Dist. 3, Providence), who fled Liberia in 1991 at age 20 to escape a war in which genocide occurred, is also a cosponsor.
“I have experienced the horrors of genocide firsthand. It’s a very tragic fact that genocide continues around the world today. Our students are citizens of the world, and need to understand the impacts of genocide on their brothers and sisters wherever it occurs,” said Representative Biah.
The bill now goes to the Senate, where Senator Goldin (D-Dist. 3, Providence) is sponsoring a companion measure (2021-S 0840A).
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