(JTA) — New federal anti-bullying guidelines for U.S. educators will increase the protection of Jewish students from anti-Semitism.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan issued a letter Tuesday that in effect applies Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the protection of Jewish students from anti-Semitism on campuses. Title VI prohibits discrimination based on "race, color or national origin" but does not include religion.
Under the Department of Education guidelines, the Civil Rights Act can be invoked if anti-Jewish behavior is considered to be based on shared ethnic characteristics.
U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) introduced legislation last month that would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964, whose Title VI prohibits discrimination based on "race, color, or national origin" to also include religion. The Zionist Organization of America also has led efforts to bring about legislative changes to Title VI, including lobbying members of Congress.
In a statement following the release of the guidelines, Sherman said that "The policy is now clear: colleges and universities will no longer be permitted to turn a blind eye when Jewish students face severe and persistent anti-Semitic hostility on their campuses. The schools will now be compelled to respond."
The Department of Education also announced that it would use Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act to protect students with disabilities from harassment on campus.