October 20, 2023 (Washington, DC) — Earlier this week, the Sikh Coalition was proud to join a panel discussion titled Banned Beliefs: How People of Diverse Faiths are Fighting to Protect Our Public Schools and Libraries.
The event, hosted by Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD) on Wednesday, October 18, focused on interfaith approaches to preserving academic freedom and inclusivity in our nation’s public school classrooms and libraries. The Sikh Coalition joined allies including the American Library Association, Students Engaged in Advancing Texas, and the Interfaith Alliance for the conversation.
In the course of the conversation, panelists discussed how our communities can fight back against efforts to ban books that are inclusive of different communities, as well as the wider nationwide campaign to constrain public schools and libraries in service of extreme political and religious views. The Sikh Coalition understands these issues to be closely linked to highly politicized conversations about “Critical Race Theory” in our nation’s recent political dialogue; to understand how fear-mongering around inclusive education harms our efforts to ensure Sikhi is represented and respected in classrooms, read our community FAQ on this issue.
We continue to believe that all children deserve to feel safe and included in school, which means seeing themselves and their experiences reflected in both instruction and reading materials. As Sikhs, we know what it is like to have inaccurate information about our community taught in schools, and to be left out of classroom conversations entirely—which is why we choose to fight alongside other communities against this latest wave of marginalization.
The Sikh Coalition continues our comprehensive work to ensure Sikh representation and inclusion in educational materials and classrooms across the nation so that our children feel both safe and seen by the education system. Earlier this month, we celebrated as Connecticut joined 17 other states and Washington, DC, in adding Sikhi to their state social studies standards as a result of advocacy by our organization and the local sangat. And in September, the Sikh Coalition was also proud to launch our new Education Advisory Committee, welcoming six Sikh educators, DEI experts, community activists, and parents who bring a wealth of experience and expertise to our ongoing campaigns.
Finally, as a reminder, our ‘Back to School Toolkit’ includes a wide range of content—including our Educator’s Guide to Sikhism; lesson plans and classroom content for both elementary and middle/high school-aged students; anti-bullying content for parents and administrators; content for librarians; accommodation letters (scroll down after clicking link) for students who maintain articles of faith; and more—all available for free on our website.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.