Oregon lawmakers voted unanimously on Tuesday to pass legislation that would require schools in the state to teach students about the Holocaust and other genocides in efforts to ensure students “continue to tell those stories to prevent such actions again.”
The legislation mandates that high schools in the state incorporate “specific references to the Holocaust and genocide” into their social studies curriculum, the state House said in an announcement.
State Rep. Janeen Sollman (D), one of the chief sponsors of the legislation, said in a statement that the bill “is about keeping history alive.”
“This legislation is about ensuring that our students learn about our true history, learn to appreciate and understand our survivors’ stories, and continue to tell those stories to prevent such actions again,” she continued.
The legislation was inspired by a local student from Oswego, Claire Sarnowski, who introduced the idea with the help of Holocaust survivor Alter Wiener, according to the state House’s announcement.
Sarnowski spoke about Wiener’s influence on the legislation in recent public testimony.
“Alter’s dream was to mandate education which would continue the legacy of the Holocaust and genocides,” she said. “Although he is not here with me today, he prepared me to carry on this mission and to persevere in making this a reality. … We need to ensure these atrocities are never forgotten nor ignored.”
The bill now heads to Gov. Kate Brown (D) for consideration.
If signed, Oregon would become the 11th state to pass legislation requiring schools to teach students about the Holocaust and other genocides.