Council Members Dromm and Kallos Stand With Advocates to Support Religious Literacy in Schools

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Jackson Heights, N.Y.____ Council Members Daniel Dromm and Benjamin Kallos hosted a virtual rally with advocates from several religious organizations supporting the passage of Council Resolution 1257. The Resolution calls on the New York City Department of Education to adapt age-appropriate religious diversity education curricula for all K-12 students and provide professional development in this area for teachers.

“It’s time we fought back against this disturbing national trend of religious-based violence and intolerance,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm. “By including religious literacy education in our school curricula, we can foster an environment where future generations learn to understand and appreciate other cultures, and not antagonize them. My hope is that Resolution 1257 will be the first step in creating a more just and accepting City”.

Council Member Kallos said “Knowledge is power, especially right now in the era of fake news. We are seeing an increase in religious and cultural intolerance, especially toward Jewish, Asian American Pacific Islander, and South Asian communities. New York City needs to be able to create and adapt an age-appropriate religious diversity curricula for all K-12 students if we are going to be successful at fighting off this national trend of religious-based intolerance. New York City prides itself on diversity so we must make the investment and take the time to provide professional development in this area for teachers and educators. There is no place for bullying in our schools and the only way to prevent this is through education and pointing out that diversity is a strength that should be celebrated. This Resolution is a step in the right direction.”

During the press conference, advocacy groups unveiled a letter signed by more than 70 individuals and organizations in favor of the measure. The coalition also announced an advocacy tool where supporters of the Resolution could urge their local Council Members to support the resolution. That tool can be found online by visiting bit.ly/nyc-religious-education

The coalition’s letter said, in part: “[Hate] incidents like these do not happen in a vacuum.  They are shaped by our social and political climate, which has unfortunately fostered religious bigotry in recent years.  K-12 education about religious diversity would help to change this climate, by dispelling the stereotypes and misunderstandings that allow bigotry to take hold. Bigotry, bullying, and hate crimes are pressing problems that the Department of Education must address, but the academic study of religion will also contribute to the DOE’s fundamental educational goals.”

The Resolution cites a study from the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding which found that 42 percent of Muslims, 23 percent of Jews, and 6 percent of Catholics reported that at least one of their children experienced religious-based bullying at school in the previous year. Furthermore, in 25 percent of the incidents that involved Muslim students a school administrator or educator perpetrated the bullying.

Council Member Daniel Dromm represents the New York City Council’s 25th District, which includes Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst, and Elmhurst. He serves as the Chair of the Council’s Finance Committee and sits on the Civil and Human Rights, Civil Service and Labor, Education, Immigration, and State and Federal Legislation Committees. For more information, please visit https://council.nyc.gov/district-25/

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