LI lawmakers introduce bill requiring education on swastikas, nooses

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Lawmakers on Long Island introduced a bill Tuesday to combat hate in classrooms across New York state.

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky and Assemblyman Charles Lavine announced that they are introducing a bill to make it mandatory for teachers to educate middle school and high school students about swastikas and nooses.

The lawmakers say most of the time, graffiti depicting swastikas and other hate symbols comes from teenagers with a lack of understanding on what they actually mean.

Officials and teachers say there is currently no specific mandate to teach students about the history of the symbols and their meanings, and how they connect to current events and incidents.

Baldwin High School teacher John Buglione says while students do learn about events like the Holocaust and slavery, the current state curriculum doesn't require specific lessons on the symbols.

Lawmakers say there has been an increase in hate crimes in Nassau this year, and education and prevention are needed. They highlighted a recent incident at Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park in Oyster Bay, where a number of swastikas were found last week.

The outside walls of Syosset High School were also defaced with the symbols two years ago.

The legislation would make it mandatory for teachers to allocate specific time in class to teach students from grades six to 12 about swastikas and nooses.

Helen Turner, of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center in Glen Cove, says if this bill passes the center will work with teachers about how to best educate students on these matters.

Sen. Kaminsky says it's been a few years since a state exam included a question about swastikas.

A spokesperson for the Nassau-Suffolk School Board Association says the group approves of the intent of the bill.

 

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