Trenton – Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator Robert Singer today announced that they have introduced bipartisan legislation to expressly prohibit anti-Semitism in public schools and institutions of higher education statewide.
Currently, State law broadly prohibits discriminating against a person based on number of factors, including “creed,” which in practice, has been widely interpreted to mean one can’t discriminate against someone based on religion. To ensure this prohibition is consistently applied, the new bipartisan bill explicitly expands the categories protected under the law to clarify that discriminating against a person based on religion is prohibited.
“Hate has no home in the Garden State. A school should be a safe and nurturing place – not a haven for discrimination,” said Senator Robert Singer (R-Monmouth, Ocean.) “It is hard to explain the trauma a young Jewish child experiences when they walk into a classroom and see a swastika on the chalkboard. Anti-Semitism is a cancer on society and it is growing in New Jersey. By passing this bill, we are taking action to stamp out this disease, before it’s too late.”
“We have a responsibility to teach our children the value of tolerance, and ensure they are learning in an environment where everyone has the same opportunity to succeed,” said Senate President Sweeney (D-Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland.) “Our bipartisan bill clarifies that any hateful act committed with an anti-Semitic intent is against the law, and will be punished accordingly. It is a commonsense move that will protect students in every corner of New Jersey from being denied the right to learn based on their faith.”
New Jersey had the third highest rate of anti-Semitic incidents last year, falling behind only California and New York, according to an April report by the Anti-Defamation League.
Sens. Singer and Sweeney’s bill will ensure students are not denied admission into public schools, colleges or universities based on their religion, and that policies or practices that are motivated by an anti-Semitic intent are treated in the same manner as other forms of discrimination prohibited under the law.
The bill was formally introduced in the Senate on Thursday, June 20, 2019. Click here to view a PDF of the new bill.