The Problem

Millions of American students know nothing about their Sikh classmates. Although Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world, and Sikhs have contributed to American society for over 125 years in the fields of civil rights, politics, agriculture, engineering, and medicine, Sikhs and their social and historical contributions are largely absent from state educational standards and their associated materials, which help determine the subjects included in classroom curricula and lesson plans. According to Sikh students who experience bullying, ignorance breeds animosity; one of the best ways to keep them safe is to educate their teachers and classmates about the Sikh tradition in an accurate and constitutionally appropriate way.

The Solution

The Sikh Coalition continues to partner with school officials and sangat members across the nation to ensure that Sikhs are integrated into state social studies standards and their associated materials. Following victories in New Jersey, Texas, New York, California, Idaho, Tennessee, Colorado, Arizona, Oklahoma, Michigan, North Dakota, Nebraska, Indiana, Kansas, Utah, Mississippi, Virginia, DC, Connecticut, and Minnesota, we continue to expand this campaign to achieve full coverage throughout the United States as opportunities for standards revision arise. 

To accomplish this goal, we are systematically building relationships with state departments of education and mobilizing sangats to participate in these conversations. In addition, in 2019, we crafted the first-ever C3 Resources to teach about Sikhi, providing materials to more than 9,000 teachers across the country who use the C3 Framework to inform their social studies standards and curricula.  

  • state standards victories so far
  • More than M public school students now have the opportunity to learn about Sikhi
  • teachers have access to our C3 resources about Sikhi

Impact

Because of the Sikh Coalition’s persistence over more than ten years, 19 states plus Washington, DC, have moved to include accurate information about Sikh in their standards and associated materials. This means more than 26 million students, or about 49 percent of public school students nationwide, now have the opportunity to learn about Sikhs. In addition, our release of the first-ever C3 resources in 2019, empowers social studies teachers in at least 23 states to teach about Sikhi through inquiry. Ultimately, all of this work represents a push for a generational shift in Sikh awareness, which in turn will make classrooms safer and more inclusive for Sikh and non-Sikh children alike.

 

This map shows the progress achieved by our advocacy to include Sikhi in social studies state standards (in orange) across the country. In addition to the states that have added Sikhi to their standards, a few states (in green) warrant additional explanations because their standards are not detailed enough for individual faith traditions, including Sikhi, to be included by name:

  • In 2021, the North Carolina State Board of Education adopted new content and examples that include Sikhi for the first time. Accompanying documents are made available for teachers to draw on for classroom materials.
  • In 2024, the Maryland State Board of Education approved revised social studies frameworks which include Sikhi for the first time. These frameworks provide guidance to local education agencies in implementing the state standards.

The Sikh Coalition remains committed to finding creative ways to ensure that Sikhi reaches classrooms in all states, whether or not standards-level inclusion is possible.

This map shows where teachers across the country use the C3 Framework to inform their standards and curricula. (Source: Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution)