Denver public schools_DCIS Montbello

A student raises her hand at DCIS Montbello during a reading assignment in a classroom at the Denver school in May.

The Colorado House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill on Friday to require that high schoolers study genocide and the Holocaust in order to graduate.

“Ignoring the darkest, most harrowing chapters of our history for the sake of temporary comfort will only lead to history tragically repeating itself,” said Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City, one of the proposal’s sponsors.“Teaching our high school students about the horrors of the Holocaust and the genocides that have occurred across history and around the world will no doubt lead to a better informed, hopefully more compassionate and conscientious Coloradans down the road.”

House Bill 1336 directs the State Board of Education to adopt learning standards by July 1, 2021, and for school districts to implement their genocide curriculum by the 2023-2024 school year.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum reports that 12 states require schools to teach about the Holocaust. A 2018 survey of 1,350 Americans found that four in 10 respondents and 66% of millennial respondents could not identify Auschwitz, the Nazi-run death camp that killed 1.1 million Jews.

HB1336, which has bipartisan cosponsorship in both chambers, defines genocide as killing, seriously harming, or attempting to bring about the destruction of a national, racial, ethic or religious group. Currently, Colorado’s high school social studies standards only mention the Holocaust and genocide as examples of concepts for which students should “evaluate continuity and change” and “investigate causes and effects.”

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