Early Saturday afternoon, the Oregon House passed legislation that would prohibit the displaying of hate symbols in schools and educational programs. This would include nooses, neo-Nazi symbols, the Confederate battle flag and other symbols with a history of causing substantial disruption to educational environments. The bill also requires school districts, public charter schools, Education Service Districts and schools for the deaf to adopt a policy to address bias incidents.
House Bill 2697, which passed 47 to zero, comes in the wake of increased violence against racial and religious minorities across the United States.
“Every student should be able to participate in school activities without fear, bias or bullying,” said Representative David Gomberg (D- Central Coast). “Schools are places where students should feel welcomed and safe. The wounds from bias incidents may heal, but the scars remain. We have a responsibility to protect students from these deeply traumatic experiences to the best of our ability.”
This legislation was a collaborative effort between the legislators who sponsored the bill, the Department of Education, former State Representative Caddy McKeown, and students.
“Vulnerable students have increasingly been the targets of hate speech and hate crimes across this state,” said Representative Teresa Alonso Leon (D- Woodburn), who chairs the House Committee on Education. “Children cannot learn in an environment where they must also contend with threats and intimidation. HB 2697 will provide them with long overdue protections.”
HB 2697 will now move to the Oregon Senate for consideration.