On September 25, 2016, California’s Governor signed into law the Safe Place to Learn Act. Titled AB 2845, this legislation will help school officials address bullying based on religious bias in California — the nation’s most populous state and home to the nation’s largest Sikh American community.

One catalyst for this law was a 2014 Sikh Coalition report which found that a majority of turbaned Sikh students in California’s Central Valley experience bullying and harassment because of their religion.

The Safe Place to Learn Act requires the California Department of Education to regularly assess whether local education agencies have provided staff with resources on religion-based bullying. In addition, the California Department of Education is required to post on its website a list of resources that support students who have experienced school-based discrimination based on their actual or perceived religion, nationality, race, or ethnicity. These resources will make it easier for teachers and school administrators to assist students who experience bullying in California’s public schools and ultimately prevent bullying from occurring in the first place.

Why It Matters
Bullying is not a rite of passage; it is a civil rights issue, and school officials have a legal obligation to create a safe and healthy learning environment for our children. The Safe Place to Learn Act promotes awareness and accountability among school officials, who are responsible for protecting our children from physical and psychological harm when they are at school.