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An apology letter intended to acknowledge Vermont's role in a program that sought to sterilize certain Vermonters deemed "degenerates" is seeing the light of day in the state legislature.

A joint resolution "sincerely apologizing and expressing sorrow and regret" to Vermonters impacted and harmed by state-sanctioned eugenics policies and practices was approved unanimously by the House of Representatives Wednesday. Before final approval and recognition, the bill must be passed by the Senate.

Eugenics programs of the twentieth century sought "racial purity" using forced sterilization of Indigenous, mixed-race, poor and disabled people, among other policies, to achieve it.

The official apology comes 90 years after Vermont approved a sterilization law which targeted people with disabilities residing in state institutions, Abenaki bands and Vermonters of mixed French-Canadian heritage, among others.

In 1925, Henry F. Perkins, a University of Vermont zoology professor, established the Eugenics Survey of Vermont to "measure evidence of alleged delinquency, dependency, and mental defectiveness," according to the resolution. While the survey program was disbanded in 1936, sterilizations continued through the 1960s.

In a farewell address to the Vermont Legislature in 1912... see more