Dear Supporter Ji,
Last week, Michigan became the tenth state to approve social studies standards that will include Sikhism accurately! As a Sikh high school student from Grand Rapids, Michigan, I could not be more excited.
On June 11th, dozens of Sikh community members, supported by the Sikh Coalition, attended the final school board meeting to make one final push to accurately include Sikhi where all world religions were mentioned.
I had the opportunity to speak in front of the Michigan school board about why excluding Sikhi from the state standards was a huge mistake. I shared that as a student, I have always enjoyed learning about other communities and religions, but never understood why Sikhi was excluded. In addition, I encouraged the Board members to learn more about Sikhi and in particular, pointed out that Darbar Sahib in Amritsar is the largest free kitchen in the world.
Then we patiently waited for the Board to vote. The first motion introduced was to pass the state standards with a “move to approve the social studies standards as presented and accept the amendment presented by the Sikh community.” The motion was passed 6-2. FATEH! Now, 1.45 million public school students across Michigan will have the opportunity to accurately learn about Sikhi in their classrooms.
This victory did not come easy. Michigan’s social studies standards have not changed significantly since 2006. In April 2019, the draft social studies standards inaccurately included Sikhi as an example of religious syncretism, or a blend of religions. Since then, the Sikh Coalition and the Michigan Sikh community rallied by sending letters, submitting 400 public comments, and showing up at nearly every public event across the state to urge the Board to include Sikhi.
As a current Grand Rapids high school student, I value the opportunity for a diverse education. As a Sikh, I feel confident that future generations of Americans will receive accurate information about the Sikh faith, community and traditions.
This accomplishment was not easy, and I am grateful to the Sikh Coalition for their efforts that supported this victory. The Sikh Coalition’s multi-year educational work in our nation’s classrooms has made a lasting impact here in Michigan, and I encourage you to learn more about and support their never-ending work to create safer schools, and access their free Back to School Toolkit for parents and educators online.
Channi Singh Mangat
Student, Forest Hills Public School District
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