Sen. Hwang, Boucher urge communities to fight anti-Semitism, racism

State Senator Toni Boucher (R-26)

State Senator Toni Boucher (R-26)

State Senator Toni Boucher (R-26) and Senator Tony Hwang (R-28) said they are disturbed and disappointed by the news of anti-Semitic taunts made during a recent high school lacrosse game.

A student group known as the “Bomb Squad” at Fairfield College Preparatory School is accused of using anti-Semitic slurs at a Jewish Staples High School Lacrosse team member. Members also are accused of holding a sign referencing male genitalia and urinating on school grounds and cars in the Staples High School parking lot.

State Senator Tony Hwang (R-28)

“I can’t express how disappointed I was to read about something like this happening at what should be a positive event. These actions turned cheering for a high school sports team into a very negative incident that expresses a bigotry that is outrageous and intolerable,” Sen. Boucher said. “The rise in anti-Semitism and racism during the past year is something I never thought I would see again. I would like to see it wiped out of our society. This certainly requires stronger measures on the part of the schools, the community, and parents.”

As co-chair of the legislature’s Education Committee, Sen. Boucher spent several legislative sessions trying to get Holocaust education as a required high school curriculum component. This year, with the cooperation of other Education Committee members, the Holocaust education bill became law, Public Act 18-24.

Sen. Hwang, who co-sponsored the Holocaust education bill, said, “The behavior at the lacrosse game is unacceptable, hurtful and must be a catalyst for greater respect and tolerance of diversity in our community. Hate Has No Home Here in Connecticut.  We must use what happened at the game as a teachable moment, and use it as a tool to combat hateful acts of prejudice and bias. Let us also reflect on the overall tone of vitriol and negativity in our social interactions and respect differences in opinion. We can lead by example and work to heal our communities through dialogue, through tolerance, and through kindness.  Clearly, we have a lot work to do. I am ready to lead and work together to build up our community.”

Sen. Boucher has sought to require Holocaust education be included in high school social studies curriculum since she was a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives.

“I spent a lot of time on this issue in Hartford in the legislature to bring greater education about this issue. We have to teach our children about why thoughtless, hateful words and actions can never be tolerated. Children need to be sensitized to the ways bigoted words and small actions can grow into something much more harmful,” she said. “This is the time when this must be addressed. We need to take action immediately and strongly. It can’t wait until next school year. It’s time to revisit the past so people can get a sense of how damaging this truly is.”

Sen. Boucher and Sen. Hwang said a number of organizations are willing to provide educational materials about the Holocaust and other genocides as no charge to the schools.

Numerous incidents of anti-Semitic and racist graffiti and actions have taken place throughout the state, Sen. Boucher said, which highlights the need for more education and conversations about these issues. She called on private schools to join public schools in requiring Holocaust and genocide education in their curriculums.

Sen. Boucher represents the communities of Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.

Sen. Hwang represents the communities of Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Weston, and Westport.

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