March 5, 2020 (Indianapolis, IN) – The Indiana Board of Education approved a new set of social studies standards for Indiana’s public schoolchildren that include Sikhism for the first time ever.
These new standards will ultimately reach more than 1,000,000 students across the state of Indiana, and this victory represents the first state in 2020, and 13th state overall, to include Sikhism in its social studies standards. In total, roughly 45 percent of students nationwide–approximately 22,536,783 pupils in total–now have the opportunity to learn about Sikhism.
“These new standards are a huge victory for greater Sikh awareness throughout Indiana,” said Chirjeev Kaur Oberoi, a Sikh parent in Carmel, Indiana. “The Sikh Coalition’s work to empower our statewide sangat to effectively advocate for ourselves with the State Board of Education will ultimately create an environment that is safer for Sikh American children and adults alike.”
The Sikh Coalition has been monitoring the standards in Indiana and providing resources about Sikhism to Indiana organizations and officials since 2016. In January of this year, our education team provided a detailed request to the standards writing committee, highlighting where Sikhism could be reflected in history and geography standards. The new standards reflect all of these recommendations, ensuring Sikhism’s presence in five places: Grade 7 History standard 7.1.2, Geography and History of the World standards GHW.2.1 and GHW.3.5, World Geography standard WG.4.6, and World History and Civilizations standard WH.2.1. Our ask was bolstered by the support of eight gurdwaras across the state, which joined the Sikh Coalition in signing an additional advocacy letter.
“We are grateful to the members of the Indiana sangat and the gurdwara leadership committees that joined us in this important advocacy effort,” said Pritpal Kaur, Sikh Coalition Education Director. “Our work to encourage more states to include Sikhism in their standards is about accuracy, representation, and safety–after all, we know that more informed communities will better respect and value their Sikh American neighbors.”
In addition to advocating for many more states to adopt social studies standards that include Sikhism, the Sikh Coalition remains committed to ensuring that educators have the resources they need–including lesson plans, materials, and more–to teach about Sikhism in an accurate and appropriate manner. If you are interested in the content that we have compiled for both educators and Sikh parents, be sure to check out our Back to School Toolkit.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.