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The Leadership Conference Education Fund

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Funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Education, Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program.

Issue/Question:
One of the teachers in our school is making anti-Semitic remarks. What should I do?

Suggested Response:

It is important that each of us debunk bigotry whenever it occurs. However, exactly how to handle situations like this one will depend on many factors, including how comfortable you are with the topic. One possibility for handling this teacher's remarks is to disagree politely but firmly with what has been said. Admit that you find the remark offensive and label it anti-Semitic. Deciding whether it would be better to say something immediately or arrange a time when you and the teacher can talk privately is a decision that you will have to make. In many cases, when people are confronted publicly they feel the need to rationalize their statements or in some other way "save face" in front of the group. Whenever you decide to say something, make sure that it is clear that you are not attacking the speaker, but rather making your feelings and your position on the topic clear, which you have every right to do. Using "I statements" can be very useful in this regard.

To lay the groundwork for more harmonious dialogue at your school, work with other teachers and staff to institute seminars and lectures that will broaden the faculty's perspectives about different groups.
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