Sikh Coalition Launches Landmark “Where Are You Really From?” Report

On April 18, the Sikh Coalition was proud to launch our newest report: “Where Are You Really From?” (WAYRF) A National Sikh School Climate Report. This report serves as a comprehensive study of bullying and other issues faced by Sikh students, building on our 2014 report “Go Home, Terrorist.”

Roughly 2,000 U.S.-based Sikh students ages 9 to 18 completed the Sikh Student Survey in 2023 that asked questions about bullying, their interactions with both peers and staff, their knowledge of bullying reporting procedures, the microaggressions they face, and whether the classroom policies and conversations allow them to not just practice their faith freely, but share and celebrate it. Based on the findings, the Sikh Coalition has developed new recommendations for federal and state officials, state and local education officials, and school administrators and educators that are outlined in WAYRF. Additionally, the report includes an updated step-by-step guide for parents who are concerned that their child is facing bullying, as well as a glossary of terms related to Sikhi for non-community member audiences.

To read the report in its entirety and view our other education resources, visit thesikh.co/WAYRF.

New Resource: Toolkit for Local Resolutions Recognizing the Sikh Genocide of 1984

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the genocide perpetrated against the Sikh community by the Indian state. Because the commemoration of and search for justice after 1984 is important to many sangat members, the Sikh Coalition has put together an advocacy toolkit to assist sangats across the nation in seeking local proclamations to commemorate this essential part of our shared history. Learn more about how to secure such proclamations and read the draft text we have provided on our blog.

New Workplace Accommodation Case Resolved

The Sikh Coalition recently helped a sangat member—a young Singh working to become a pilot—ensure that he did not have to choose between his career and faith. In January of this year, Mr. Singh requested accommodation to maintain both his dastaar and kesh from the flight school where he is currently training to become a commercial airline pilot. While the request was approved with respect to his turban, he was denied permission to maintain his beard; in response to the denial, Mr. Singh sought legal aid from the Sikh Coalition.

After a letter from the Sikh Coalition’s attorneys, the flight school relented and confirmed that this young Singh would be permitted to move forward with his studies—and his Sikhi intact! The Sikh Coalition remains honored to leverage our more than 20 years of expertise to fight for sangat members, no matter what discrimination they face against their Sikh identity. If you or someone you know has faced such injustice, reach out to our team.

Sikh Coalition Attends Religion News Association Conference

The Sikh Coalition’s media and communications team attended the Religion News Association (RNA) 75th anniversary conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, this month, where they reconnected with reporters and media who regularly cover issues related to hate crimes, discrimination, advocacy related to faith, and more. In addition, our communications colleagues were instrumental in pitching, planning, and participating in the ‘Food and Faith’ panel. We would like to thank the local sangat for providing samosa, pakora, and cha for the panel in the spirit of langar.

During the trip, Sikh Coalition colleagues also met with the local sangat from Gurdwara Sahib Tri State Sikh Cultural Society to share our upcoming work with them. The sangat were among those in the country whose youth took part in the “Where Are You Really From?” report. We look forward to continuing to build our connections with sangat across the nation.

GOTV Fellowship Deadline Extended to May 31

Sikh Coalition has extended the application deadline for our first ever Get Out The Vote (GOTV) Fellowship Program to May 31! This program is for high school juniors and above to gain the tools and guidance to increase their civic power by encouraging members of local communities to vote in the upcoming 2024 elections. During the six-month program, fellows will be given the opportunity to develop and implement strategies for voter engagement. The Sikh Coalition is specifically looking to recruit candidates from Texas, Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. Learn more and apply here.

Transnational Repression Update

In recent weeks, the Sikh Coalition has continued our advocacy on transnational repression (TNR). This effort included a letter, signed by 13 civil rights organizations in the wider Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) space, urging Congress to take action on TNR.

The Sikh Coalition also continues to brief federal agencies and state legislators on issues of TNR. Early April, we sent a follow-up letter to the White House requesting updates on actions they have taken to investigate recent TNR against the Sikh community and hold India accountable; in light of recent reporting by the Washington Post about the government of India’s involvement in the plot to assassinate a Sikh in New York, we will soon be undertaking more advocacy. As always, you can read more about our work to combat transnational repression on our website.

Book Ban Legislation Work Continues

Over the past few months, the Sikh Coalition has been working diligently to advocate state-level legislation that confronts an increasing trend of book bans and targeted political attacks on literature representing marginalized communities in K-12 public schools and public libraries. We have filed letters of support for proactive and protective bills in Washington state, Colorado, Maryland, and Pennsylvania; you can track our work on these issues here.The Washington state bill, HB 2331, was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee on March 26. The Sikh Coalition is also exploring ways to oppose measures that actively work to suppress the voices of marginalized communities, increase censorship, and even criminalize efforts to protect the freedom to read—such as our letter of opposition to Utah’s House Bill 29.

The Sikh Coalition will continue to assess this space for further advocacy, including upcoming work in New Jersey around S2421. For more information about how we approach the intersection of school bullying, inclusive curricula, and difficult topics like book bans or Critical Race Theory, please view our Policy Principles for Creating Safer and More Inclusive Schools, which includes information about the legislation we support or oppose and an extensive community FAQ.