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Office of the President

For Immediate Release April 6, 1999

                              April 6, 1999

Today, President Clinton will applaud public and private efforts to teach children about tolerance, and will urge Congress to pass quickly the pending federal hate crimes legislation. This legislation strengthens the existing federal hate crimes law by (1) extending the situations where prosecutions can be brought for violent crimes motivated by bias based on race, color, religion, or national origin; and (2) expanding the federal hate crimes statute to protect against hate crimes based on sexual orientation, gender, or disability. The President will also announce a new public-private partnership which will focus attention on issues of hate, tolerance, and diversity in middle-grade schools. Finally, the President will call on the Departments of Justice and Education to include hate crimes in their annual report card on school safety and to report on hate crimes and bias on college campuses.

Urging Passage of Expanded Federal Hate Crimes Law. The President will urge Congress to pass the bipartisan Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 1999, which expands a principal federal hate crimes statute. The current statute prohibits acts of violence that are based on a person's race, color, religion, or national origin and that are intended to interfere with certain specified federally protected activities. The proposed legislation would extend the situations where prosecutions could be brought by making these acts of violence illegal even if they did not interfere with federally protected activities. In addition, the legislation would authorize the Department of Justice to prosecute individuals who commit violent crimes against others because of the victim's sexual orientation, gender, or disability. Current federal law does not cover these cases.

Announcing Public-Private Partnership to Create a Middle-School Program about Tolerance. The President announced a public-private partnership that will develop a program for middle-school students to teach tolerance in the classroom and in their daily lives. The members of the partnership are AT&T, Court TV, the National Middle School Association, the Anti-Defamation League, and Cable in the Classroom. They will be assisted by the Departments of Justice and Education. This effort is supported by the NAACP, the Leadership Conference for Civil Rights, the National Council of La Raza, the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, the National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems, the National Education Association, and the National School Boards Association. The Partnership also expects support from other organizations that deal with these issues. Recognizing that tolerance cannot be taught in a single day and that raising awareness of diversity should be integrated into students' daily lives, this public-private partnership -- entitled "Dealing with Our Differences" -- will provide an opportunity for middle-school students to learn about the harmful impact of intolerance and will highlight positive ways that young adolescents are dealing with diversity issues. The Partnership will develop in-school lessons and activities supported with cable TV programming, videos and websites, a nationally-televised forum on diversity and tolerance at the end of October; and post-show lessons and activities.

Directing the Education and Justice Departments to Collect Data About Hate Crimes in Schools and Colleges. In order to better understand the problem of hate crimes and intolerance among young people, the President will call on the Departments of Justice and Education to include in their annual report card on school safety a new section on hate crimes among young people, both at and away from school. In addition, the President will direct the Department of Education, with appropriate assistance from the Department of Justice, to collect data on hate crime and bias on college campuses for periodic publication.