April 18, 2024 (New York, NY) — Today, the Sikh Coalition is proud to launch our newest report: Where Are You Really From?” A National Sikh School Climate Report. This report serves as a comprehensive study of bullying and other issues faced by Sikh students, building upon our 2014 report Go Home, Terrorist

From February through March of 2023, more than 2,000 U.S.-based Sikh students ages 9 to 18 completed the Sikh Student Survey. The survey asked questions about bullying, their interactions with both peers and staff, their knowledge of bullying reporting procedures, the microaggressions they face, and whether classroom policies and conversations allow them to not just practice their faith freely, but share and celebrate it. After analyzing this survey data, the Sikh Coalition—along with our California-based academic colleagues, research partner Dr. Kavita Kaur Atwal and research consultant Dr. Erin Knight—have emerged with a comprehensive and current sense of school climate for Sikh youth across the country. 

An in-depth analysis of the data is available in the digital copy of Where Are You Really From? (WAYRF) and online at thesikh.co/WAYRF. Key findings include: 

  • Sikh students continue to be bullied at alarmingly high rates, yet don’t always describe what they experience as bullying. 78% of students reported experiencing behavior that qualifies as bullying, but only 49% said they were bullied.
  • Sikh male students with religious head coverings are highly likely to be bullied. 77% of Sikh male students with dastaars or patkas reported being bullied at least once, and the data further showed that male Sikh students are generally facing higher rates of discrimination and more violent forms of bullying in schools.
  • Sikh students are bullied by school staff. A shocking 11% of Sikh students reported being bullied by or facing discrimination from the very adults charged with educating and protecting them.
  • Sikh students somewhat understand how to report bullying, but often face inaction when they do. 74% of Sikh students said they know how to report bullying at their school, but 46% report “never” or “almost never” doing so—perhaps because 63% said that teachers or staff “almost never” or “never” intervened when bullying happened in front of them. 
  • Sikh students are less safe in less inclusive schools. When asked about inclusion of Sikhi in educational materials and school policies, more than 50% of Sikh students reported that their school is “not at all” inclusive of their religion. Data also indicate that less inclusivity significantly predicts more bullying incidents.
  • Sikh students who are bullied face poorer mental health outcomes. Data shows that bullying incidents (actual and perceived) are significantly related to higher scores on tests that measure a depressed mood. 
  • Sikh students face high rates of microaggressions, but may not recognize them as bullying. 82% of Sikh students reported experiencing at least one microaggression, but the majority who did so did not self-report being bullied; conversely, 73% of students who said they were never bullied reported at least one microaggression. Even if Sikh students don’t consider microaggressions to be bullying, however, those who faced higher levels of microaggressions also reported worse mental health outcomes.

“Our findings in Where Are You Really From? validate years of our work alongside Sikh students, parents, and community members across the nation,” said Dr. Rucha Kaur, Sikh Coalition’s Community Development Director and principal author of WAYRF. “We know that our youth experience bullying; now, we have the data to show the depth of the problem—and to back up a wide range of solutions to make our schools safer and more inclusive for all students. With this report as our latest tool, we will continue to fight for Sikh students to feel safe and seen in their educational environments.”

Based on our study, 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. Additionally, you can learn more about the report by joining our Sikh Coalition Live via Instagram with Dr. Kaur and Dr. Atwal on Thursday, April 25, at 3:30 PM ET. In the weeks ahead, we look forward to sharing more about how parents and sangat members can get involved in sharing WAYRF and its conclusions with educators and policymakers.

As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.