CA Sikhs Testify in Favor of Education about Sikhs in Schools

This week, I had an opportunity to accompany 7 members of the local Sikh community to Sacramento (California’s state capital). Our goal? To persuade the State Education Committee to adopt education on Sikhi as part of the mandatory history and social science curriculum in k-12 public schools!Sikh student

In our individual comments to the Committee, we covered issues from Sikh immigration history to bias-based discrimination. Modesto is the only school district in California that requires students to take and pass a world religions course with Sikhi as part of the curriculum. Yvonne Taylor, a Modesto County teacher who includes Sikhi in her high school World Religions class, was there to support us. So was Jeffrey Brodd, a professor from California State University, Sacramento, who teaches about Sikhi in his course. The Sikh Coalition presented the committee with thirty written testimonials from Sikh students, parents and professionals from across the state – from Los Angeles to Sacramento. The testimonials discussed why Sikhi should be part of the “Survey of World Religions” requirement. Overall, our group received a positive response from committee members.

Sikhs also have a strong female advocate, Mohani Thiara, on the committee. Mohani is a junior high school history teacher in Merced County.

It was awesome to be part of this community-led effort! It was also amazing to see how our immigrant community is civically engaged … five out of the seven community-members were immigrants to California and have been spearheading this effort. Even though the meeting was on weekday, our community’s voices were well represented at the table.

Thanks to all the sevadars who were willing to take the time to write down and share their personal thoughts! A consistent message I received from committee members following the meeting was the testimonials presented a humanizing element to why Sikhi should be part of the curriculum. My comments on the testimonials were supported by the bias-based incident reports we collect on our website. Please continue to report bias-based discrimination to us, because your reports provide a documented source of the abuses our children are encountering.

Our next steps are to organize, strategize, and make sure Sikhs are represented at the remaining meetings in Sacramento!

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me at ravneet@sikhcoalition.org.

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