October 22, 2018 (Phoenix, AZ) – Today, the Arizona State Board of Education voted to approve
new history and social science standards, which for the first time ever include Sikhism and several other world religions. As a result, the Arizona public school system has dramatically improved the state’s diversity education and religious literacy relating to Sikhs, other minority faiths and marginalized communities.
“As a proud Arizonan and Sikh mother with children in the public school system, this is going to make a lasting difference in my sons’ lives,” said Sikh community leader Anjleen Kaur Gumer. “I’m so thankful for the Sikh Coalition’s tireless advocacy and support that was critical to making this possible.”
Since August 2017, the Sikh Coalition worked with Arizona’s Sikh community and allies to advocate for the inclusion of Sikhism to enhance the social studies standards. In April 2018 the more inclusive standards received public support, but a last-minute proposal from Arizona’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Diane Douglas, threatened to eliminate every religion from the standards except Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
In response, the Sikh Coalition mobilized 18 organizations
comprised of faith leaders, teachers and community-based organizations to join the Sikh community in calling for the Arizona State Board of Education to approve the revised history and social science standards. Additionally, the Sikh Coalition launched a national petition supporting the more inclusive standards that received over 3,119 signatures
while also applying media pressure
“We are thrilled that Arizona has taken this step as we continue our efforts to create Sikh awareness in our nation’s classrooms for generations to come,” said Sikh Coalition Education Director Pritpal Kaur. “Arizona now becomes the eighth state to incorporate these critical updates into their standards as we continue our work to combat bigotry and increase religious literacy across the United States.”
Due to the Sikh Coalition’s multi-year national campaign to make classrooms safer and more inclusive, Arizona joins New York, New Jersey, Texas, Tennessee, Colorado, Idaho and California as the latest state to include accurate information about Sikhism in state standards. This means up to 15 million students in these states have an opportunity to learn about Sikhs. The goal is to make sure Sikhism is included in every state’s standards over the next 10 years so every Sikh child is represented in their public schools.
“This is another important victory for the Sikh community in our never-ending efforts to make sure our classrooms are inclusive and that every student in America is educated about Sikhism,” said Pritpal Kaur. “We have another 42 states to go, but we are excited about the hard work and opportunities that are in front of us.”
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.