The U.S. Department of Education’s (Department) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released a new Dear Colleague Letter reminding schools of their legal obligations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI) to provide all students, including students who are or are perceived to be Jewish, Israeli, Muslim, Arab, or Palestinian, a school environment free from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin.
The Biden-Harris Administration is implementing the U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, and the White House also announced last week that the Biden-Harris Administration will develop a U.S. National Strategy to Counter Islamophobia. The Department will continue to complete actions under the strategy to counter antisemitism and anticipates additional actions under its purview will result from the forthcoming strategy to counter Islamophobia.
OCR also recently released an updated complaint form specifying that Title VI’s protection from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin extends to students who are or are perceived to be Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or Sikh, or based on other shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics. This update will help individuals understand how to file a Title VI complaint.
The newly released documents are among several resources released by OCR to support schools in complying with their obligations under Title VI to address discrimination based on race, color, or national origin, including shared ancestry and ethnic characteristics. Additional resources in this area include a fact sheet, Protecting Students from Discrimination Based on Shared Ancestry or Ethnic Characteristics, released in January 2023, and a Dear Colleague Letter issued in May 2023 as part of the Department’s launch of an Antisemitism Awareness Campaign. These 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 discrimination based on shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics, is available here.
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