April 26, 2015 (Washington D.C.) - Earlier this week, the Sikh Coalition trained over 100 Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees, including security officers, on Sikhism and Sikh air travelers’ rights during the screening process. The organization’s Operations Manager Balbir Singh and Legal Fellow, Attorney Katie Mallon conducted eight in-person training sessions over two days at Dulles International Airport in Washington D.C. These trainings were also available through a live webcast and recorded to be used as part of a nationwide TSA webinar.
Click here for photos from the training.
These trainings are part of our larger advocacy efforts to ensure Sikhs are treated with the same dignity and respect as any other traveler. The Sikh Coalition educated the TSA on how to safeguard the religious rights of Sikh air travelers and to screen respectfully – including ensuring that Sikhs are granted the option of a self pat-down of their own turban during additional screening. The trainings also covered screening karas, and the relaxed screening rules for Sikh TSA Pre✓™ Program members, Sikh elderly passengers (75 and over), and young children (12 and under).
“The Sikh turban is not a hat. It is a religious article of faith. We made clear to the TSA that asking a Sikh to remove his or her turban in public is like asking a passenger to get naked in front of everyone. It’s unacceptable, often unnecessary, and completely humiliating,” said Attorney Katie Mallon, Sikh Coalition Legal Fellow.
The presentations were very well received by TSA administrators and officers, with some employees asking for more cultural and religious diversity trainings.
The Sikh Coalition remains committed to protecting your rights at the airport and we continue to vigorously advocate for changes to TSA policy, including ensuring that turban removal is the option of last resort during the screening process.
If you believe you have been screened in violation of TSA policies, please download our FlyRights phone application and file a complaint directly with the TSA and/or the Sikh Coalition.
Want to know more about your rights at the airport? Read our Know Your Rights for Sikh Air Travelers document.
In the Media
Flying While Sikh: Why Racial Profiling Matters, The Daily Beast, by Simran Jeet Singh, Sikh Coalition Senior Religion Fellow