February 5, 2024 (Saint Paul, MN) — Late last week, the state of Minnesota approved new social studies standards, which will include Sikhi for the first time ever. This victory will give more than 800,000 students in Minnesota’s public schools the opportunity to learn about the Sikh community.

This is another significant milestone in the Sikh Coalition’s multi-year campaign to raise awareness for generations to come by ensuring access to accurate information on Sikhi for every public school student across the nation.

“These new standards will ensure that Sikh students see their community and history reflected in their classrooms,” said Randeep Singh Arora (Ricky), Secretary of the Sikh Society of Minnesota Gurdwara Sahib, of Bloomington, MN. “Inclusion in standards is necessary to prepare Minnesota’s students for interactions in both the classroom and the real world.”

This significant victory resulted from almost four years of advocacy work by the Sikh Coalition and the Minnesota sangat. The work includes: 

  • February 2020: Initiated dialogue with the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE). 
  • February 2020: Facilitated a letter to the MDE from the Sikh Society of Minnesota. 
  • December 2020: Submitted a follow-up letter to the first draft of the proposed MN standards and facilitated roughly 35 virtual testimonies submitted by sangat during a 3 week period.
  • January 2021: Provided an advocacy platform for over 200 emails sent to the MDE by MN sangat.
  • June 2021: Placed an Op-Ed with Ricky ji in the Twin Cities Pioneer Press. 
  • August 2021: Collaborated with allies from the Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh communities to draft and publish an Op-Ed in the Minnesota Star Tribune. 
  • September 2021: Facilitated an interfaith leader sign-on with over 150 signatories that was submitted to the MDE, in coordination with the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCCRC) and the Islamic Resource Group (IRG).
  • September 2021: Compiled an interfaith video of student voices for the MDE along with our partners at the JCCRC and the IRG.
  • December 2021: Facilitated roughly 140 public comments sent to the MDE with sangat.
  • December 2021: Joined the JCCRC and the IRG to coordinate an interfaith leader sign-on with 100 signatories.
  • December 2021: Submitted a letter to the Minnesota Administrative Law Judge, advocating for Sikhi’s inclusion. 
  • December 2021: Placed a final Op-Ed in Star Tribune with Rev. Tom Duke, advocating for Sikhi’s inclusion. 

“After almost four years of engagement with the Minnesota sangat, the Department of Education, and interfaith allies, we are thrilled about not only Sikhi’s inclusion but also the experiences of various religious communities,” added Upneet Kaur, Sikh Coalition Education Manager. “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 more inclusive standards will begin in the 2026-2027 school year. The Sikh Coalition will continue to work closely with the MDE during this process. 

Minnesota is now the 19th 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 26 million students from coast to coast have the possibility of 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.