June 23, 2023 (Washington, D.C.) – On Wednesday, June 21, the District of Columbia State Board of Education voted in favor of new social studies standards, which will include Sikhism.
These new standards will give approximately 49,800 students in Washington, D.C. the opportunity to learn about the Sikh community. This is a significant milestone in the Sikh Coalition’s multi-year campaign to raise Sikh awareness for generations to come. Our work aims to ensure access to accurate information on Sikhism for every public school student across the nation.
“These new standards will provide students in our nation’s capitol with an opportunity to learn about Sikhi and the experiences of Sikh Americans in their classrooms,” said sangat member Daljit Singh Sawhney of Washington, D.C.. “Inclusive standards are integral to ensuring that Sikhs are seen and heard.”
This update to Washington D.C.’s social studies standards is a result of months of advocacy. Since January 2023, the Sikh Coalition and the Sikh community in Washington D.C. have worked together in order to achieve this outcome; including:
- January 2023: We delivered correspondence to the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) on behalf of the Sikh Coalition to advocate for inclusion;
- January 2023: We facilitated a sign-on letter with Sikh Gurdwara, D.C. to the OSSE;
- March 2023: We facilitated emails sent from community members to the D.C. OSSE;
- March 2023: The D.C. OSSE released a new draft that included Sikhism in its standards;
- April 2023: We delivered correspondence to the D.C. OSSE to provide feedback on standards and to ensure continued inclusion.
“We are thrilled that the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education has chosen to ensure that the Sikh community is represented and included in their standards,” said Harman Singh, Sikh Coalition Education Director. “Inclusive and accurate standards are an important first step to combat bigotry and to reduce bullying, and they benefit all students by increasing baseline cultural competency and decreasing ignorance.”
Local adoption and implementation of the new standards will begin in the 2024-2025 school year. The Sikh Coalition will continue to work closely with the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education during this process.
Washington D.C. joins 17 states in a growing list of states that have worked with the Sikh Coalition to include accurate information about Sikhs in their public school social studies standards. These efforts mean that more than 25 million students from coast to coast have the opportunity to experience a more inclusive and holistic education. We look forward to adding even more states to this list in the months and years ahead through continued advocacy alongside sangats.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.