Ceci Maher

State Senator

Ceci Maher

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working Together For Our Communities

March 12, 2024
Bill now heads to Senate floor
Today, the Committee on Children voted to advance legislation that, if passed, would create a task force to study the effects of hate speech on children’s health and achievements. The bill, which now heads to the Senate floor for further consideration, received extensive positive support during a public hearing earlier in March.

“After hearing input and the experiences of so many individuals regarding the pain and anguish they and their children have had after hearing hate speech early in their lives, I’m encouraged that this bill is moving forward,” said State Senator Ceci Maher (D-Wilton), Senate Chair of the Committee on Children. “Discrimination and hatred can leave long-lasting scars on children’s lives; they need and deserve to grow up in a world that accepts all of us for who we are. I’m looking forward to introducing this bill on the Senate floor.”

Senate Bill 327 would establish a task force to study the effects of hate speech – any form of expression meant to vilify, humiliate or incite hatred against a group or class based on race, religion, skin color, sexual identity, gender identity, ethnicity, disability, body weight, body type or national origin – with findings reported to the General Assembly by the start of 2025.

The task force would include members of organizations working to improve children’s health and eliminate discrimination, as well as the Commissioners of Public Health, Mental Health and Addiction Services, Children and Families and Education, the Chief State’s Attorney or a representative from their office, the executive director of the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities or their designee and the executive director of the Commission on Women, Children, Seniors, Equity and Opportunity or a representative from their office, as well as others representing school based health centers.

This bill received significant support in public testimony. Michael Bloom, the executive director of the Jewish Federation Association of Connecticut, testified that as hate speech has grown in schools in recent months, the need to study its impacts and effects grows more important as well.

Melanie Wilde-Lane, the executive director of the CT Association of School Based Health Centers Inc., said in testimony that hate crimes are likely underreported in Connecticut and to study these incidents would benefit young people “who can then continue to thrive and remain in school.”

Christy Olezeski, an associate professor of Yale’s Pediatric Gender Program, said that students who experience hate speech can develop depression or anxiety, participate less in school and extracurricular activities, perform poorly academically and are at higher risk of self-harm and suicide, and the findings of such a task force could spur a stronger response from school leaders.

Contact: Joe O’Leary | 508-479-4969 | Joe.OLeary@cga.ct.gov
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