Public schoolchildren in Michigan are now required to learn about the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide as part of their social studies curriculum, according to a law Governor Rick Snyder signed on Tuesday.
While most students in Michigan no doubt learn about the Holocaust already, the new law would require teachers in public schools to spend a certain amount of time on these topics. Between eighth and 12th grades, schools must spend a combined six hours on genocide education, specifically the Holocaust—in which, during World War II, Nazi Germany killed 11 million Jews, Roma, and other ethnic minorities—and the Armenian genocide—in which Ottoman Turks killed 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1920. While Turkey denies a genocide took place, 29 countries and 45 U.S. states use the term “genocide” to refer to the killings.
In his signing statement, Snyder, a Republican, said:
Our next generation of leaders needs to have the wherewithal to recognize and help prevent widespread harm to their fellow men and women. Teaching the students of Michigan about genocide is important because we should remember and learn about these terrible events in our past while continuing to work toward creating a more tolerant society.
Several U.S. states, including California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York, already require public schoolchildren to learn about the Holocaust and other genocides. The new law in Michigan also requires the governor to make appointments to a 15-person genocide education panel, the Associated Press reports.