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Contact: media@sikhcoalition.org 

Recent Education Advocacy Victories Ensure More U.S. Public Schoolchildren Can Learn About Sikhi

December 21, 2022 (New York, NY) – This month, Utah and Mississippi became the 15th and 16th states in the nation to include Sikhi in their state social studies standards, making it possible for public schoolchildren to learn about Sikh faith, history, and contributions to American life alongside other major world religions. In both states, the Sikh Coalition was honored to work with sangat members, gurdwaras, allied organizations, and state education officials to achieve these significant victories.

On December 15, the Mississippi State Board of Education (MSBOE) voted in favor of new social studies standards that include Sikhi for the first time ever. These new standards will give approximately 457,000 students in the state the opportunity to learn about the Sikh community. In January, the Sikh Coalition made an initial request for Sikhi to be included in the new standards, and community members advocated for the same at the first MSBOE meeting of the year. In September, the Sikh Coalition then facilitated a sign-on letter in support of inclusion with three Mississippi gurdwaras, as well as another formal letter of our own. And finally, in November, we assisted more than 125 sangat members in sending individual advocacy emails to the MSBOE, while also working with religious studies faculty at Mississippi State University to advocate for Sikhi’s inclusion in the standards. 

Earlier this month, on December 1, the Utah State Board of Education (USBE) also voted in favor of new social studies standards that similarly include Sikhi for the first time ever--reaching another 606,000 students across that state. This success was years in the making; the Sikh Coalition made our initial request for Sikhi to be included in the new standards back in May of 2020. Then, in December 2021, we drafted a sign-on letter advocating for the same with both Utah gurdwaras, submitted another formal request from our organization, and facilitated the public testimony of multiple Sikh community members and students at a USBE meeting. 

“The Sikh Coalition continues to work alongside sangat members, allies, and education officials to push for more inclusive standards wherever we see the opportunity to do so,” explained Harman Singh, Sikh Coalition Senior Education Manager. “These victories don’t just reduce bullying and bigotry or help Sikh kids feel seen in their classrooms--they also make for a more well-rounded education for students from all backgrounds.”

For more than 10 years, the Sikh Coalition has pursued efforts to ensure Sikh inclusion in social studies standards on a state-by-state basis; as a result of this campaign, more than 24 million students across the United States currently have the opportunity to learn about Sikhi in school. This continued advocacy work--along with professional development for teachers, the creation and dissemination of classroom resources, and pro-bono support in severe bullying cases--is all part of a coordinated push to raise Sikh awareness at a generational level in the United States. 

The Sikh Coalition remains deeply grateful to all of the sevadaars and allies who made these recent victories in Utah and Mississippi possible. We look forward to working with parents, teachers, and state officials to ensure implementation of these standards in both states, as well as deepening our involvement in additional states’ social studies standards review processes in 2023 and beyond.

For more information about the Sikh Coalition’s comprehensive education advocacy work--including efforts to push for Sikhi inclusion in state standards, provide relevant professional development for teachers, produce and disseminate free classroom resources, and facilitate Sikh awareness presentations for schools--please email media@sikhcoalition.org.

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