Book bans are increasingly being used by some advocacy groups as a tool to oppose representation for specific communities and restrict classroom conversations about race, diversity, and history. Some states are trying to pass laws that will make book bans and other censorship easier, and in extreme cases, punish educators or librarians who defy them; other states, conversely, are attempting to prohibit such practices. In early 2024, the Sikh Coalition began tracking these kinds of legislation, which directly impacts our work in pushing for inclusive education and safe classrooms.

IMPACT

Below, please find a list of states where we have taken action in response to pro- or anti-book ban legislation.

  • Washington House Bill 2331 was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee in March of 2024. The Sikh Coalition filed a letter of support for this bill.
  • Maryland HB0785 and SB0738 were signed into law by Governor Wes Moore in April of 2024. The Sikh Coalition filed a letter of support for these bills in February of 2024.
  • Colorado SB24-049 was signed into law by Governor Jared Polis in May of 2024. The Sikh Coalition filed a letter of support for this bill, and Senior Education Manager Savleen Singh spoke at the Capitol in Denver in support of the bill during a Senate committee hearing in February of 2024.
  • Vermont Senate Bill 220 was signed into law by Governor Phil Scott in June of 2024. The Sikh Coalition filed a letter of support for this bill in April of 2024.
  • New Jersey S2421, the “Freedom to Read Act,” is awaiting a committee hearing in the New Jersey State Assembly. In May of 2024, the Sikh Coalition launched a targeted action campaign for New Jersey sangat members to support this measure, and positioned a local sangat member to speak at an Assembly Education Committee hearing.
  • The Sikh Coalition has also filed letters of support for Pennsylvania HB1506 and SB926; these bills remain in the legislative process.
  • The Sikh Coalition filed a letter of opposition for Utah House Bill 29. Unfortunately, this bill was signed into law by Governor Spencer Cox in March of 2024.

The Sikh Coalition will continue to assess this space for further advocacy, given how the growing trend of increasing book bans is explicitly linked to other politically-motivated advocacy against the teaching of so-called ‘divisive’ concepts such as systemic discrimination, white supremacy, and other issues affecting faith communities like ours.⁠  

If you have any questions about current legislation in your state or concerns about your school, please contact our Advocacy team at advocacy@sikhcoalition.org

WHY IT MATTERS

Children and students inherently understand the value of representation when they see  themselves reflected in stories, read their history in textbooks, and know that they can relate to classroom discussions. Moreover, educating all students about underrepresented communities is essential to combat the early development of bias, which left unattended, can fester and grow into fear or even hate. In this way, how information about history and culture is included in educational materials dramatically affects how safe and inclusive our classrooms are for students. 

In the spirit of sarbat da bhala, the Sikh Coalition believes that all students deserve to feel safe and seen in their classrooms. Just as we advocate for hate crime bills that cover all protected characteristics or fight for legal victories that protect the civil rights of all faith traditions, we also conduct our education work alongside and to the benefit of allies in order to achieve better results for all students.

 

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