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Gov. Cox signs resolution encouraging Holocaust education in Utah schools

FILE: The Utah State Board of Education building in Salt Lake City is pictured on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Photo: Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY– Gov. Spencer Cox signed a concurrent resolution Thursday  encouraging Utah schools to include education on the Holocaust and other genocides to “help [students] make informed choices as citizens and to help root out despicable acts of hatred, anti-Semitism, and other forms of prejudice.” 

Although it’s already expected for Utah schools to include these learning materials, a 2020 national survey found that about 63% of U.S. millennials and Gen Z don’t know millions of Jews were killed during the Holocaust. 

That same survey by the Schoen Cooperman Research, a strategic research firm, found 10% of those younger populations either don’t believe the Holocaust happened or are unsure. Another 23% believe the Holocaust is a myth or that the number of Jews who were killed is “greatly exaggerated.” 

“It is essential to provide students with knowledge of the Holocaust and other genocides to help them make informed choices as citizens and to help root out despicable acts of hatred, anti-Semitism, and other forms of prejudice,” the resolution reads. 

Role of the Holocaust education resolution 

The resolution is more of a symbolic act than a mandate. In essence, the legislation only “encourages” the State Board of Education and local agencies to emphasize the importance of including the Holocaust in education materials rather than requiring the curriculum. 

Not only does the resolution argue it’s important to “counteract and defend against unspeakable acts,” but also it’s essential for students to make informed choices to root out acts of prejudice in society. 

“Holocaust education teaches universal lessons,” the legislation reads. “World history, fascism, extremism, the fragility of democracy, the history of the Jewish people, human capacity for the immorality, scapegoating and stereotyping, the role of perpetrators and  bystanders, the importance of empathy, diversity, and efforts toward justice.”