Kirpan Case Leads to Trainings
Last month, the Sikh Coalition successfully followed through on the resolution of a kirpan-related legal intake for our client, Simranveer Kaur, in the city of Cleveland, OH. In May of 2021, Simranveer was carrying her kirpan when she attempted to use public transportation in the city of Cleveland. The driver of the bus that she boarded told her she couldn’t have a knife on the bus, but Simranveer explained that the kirpan was a Sikh article of faith and that asking her to remove it was a violation of her First Amendment rights. Unfortunately, the driver insisted that he would call the police if she did not exit the bus or give up her kirpan.
Simranveer retained the Sikh Coalition to provide assistance in this case, and we successfully secured an apology and an individual accommodation for Simranveer from the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA). The GCRTA also sent an immediate bulletin to their staff about kirpans and worked to arrange Sikh awareness trainings for more than 100 employees, including bus operators, staff trainers, service supervisors, and security personnel. The GCRTA has also committed to including Sikh awareness training as part of their onboarding process for every new hire moving forward. Click here
to learn more about Simranveer’s case.
Thank You for Your Support!
The Sikh Coalition team is excited to share that we met our 2021 fundraising goal and would like to thank our donors for their support! Especially during this exciting time as we reflect on the last 20 years and prepare for 20 more, your investment allows us to continue to fight for progress through our advocacy, community development, education, legal, and media work. Given the unique challenges we face in this new year, we hope we can count on your continued engagement moving forward. Together, we will build a future in which everyone can practice their faith fearlessly.
Marking the One-Year Anniversary of the Attack on the U.S. Capitol
On January 6, the Sikh Coalition joined many across the country in marking the one-year anniversary of a dark day in our nation’s history. As a nonpartisan civil rights organization, we believe that we all have an important obligation to reiterate the truth of the January 6 attack on the Capitol and to proactively protect our shared democratic values. Click here
to read our blog post on why the anniversary matters, how our democracy remains under siege, and what we continue to do in response.
Ensuring Sikhi is Included in Minnesota’s State Standards
Since February of 2020, the Sikh Society of Minnesota and the Sikh Coalition have been working together to ensure that Sikhi is included in the state’s next K-12 Social Studies Standards and Benchmarks.
In the past few weeks, 116 community members have submitted public comments calling for more complete inclusion of Sikhi and improved teaching about religion overall. Moreover, in collaboration with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas and the Islamic Resource Group, the Sikh Coalition submitted a letter signed by 100 Minnesota faith leaders in support of our proposed changes to the Standards and Benchmarks. Lastly, we also worked to place another op-ed piece in the Minnesota Star Tribune
--this one from a Christian leader, making the specific call for Sikh inclusion in the Standards and Benchmarks and arguing that Sikh students (and students from other faith backgrounds) deserve to see themselves and their history reflected in our schools. We will continue to provide updates as Minnesota’s standards review process moves forward in the months ahead.
New Team Capacity; Open Legal Positions
We are excited to welcome Gursimran Singh as our Operations Manager! In this role, Gursimran will oversee the organization’s finances to ensure fiscal responsibility and compliance is met, manage human resources, further develop the technology infrastructure, support recruitment efforts, and continue to develop board engagement.
In addition, the Sikh Coalition is currently hiring for two new full-time positions in our legal department:
The Staff Attorney
and Senior Staff Attorney
will provide direct legal assistance and advocate on behalf of Sikhs in high-impact litigation matters. On a pro bono basis, we represent individuals who have been discriminated against or subject to bias based upon their religious beliefs or Sikh identity. These matters include areas of hate crimes, employment discrimination, bias-based school bullying, profiling, public accommodations, and other forms of religion-based discrimination.
The deadline to apply for the Staff Attorney position is January 20, 2022.
Applications for the Senior Staff Attorney position are being accepted on a rolling basis.
Virtual Sikh Awareness Presentations for New York Students
In December, the Sikh Coalition led presentations for 500 students at the Monroe-Woodbury Central School District in Woodbury, NY. Since 2019, the Sikh Coalition has reached thousands of students and their teachers at this school district with discussions on the Sikh faith, community, and traditions. This incredible outreach began thanks to one Sikh parent’s tireless work, which you can learn about here
Challenges Faced by Sikh Healthcare Professionals Highlighted at Legal Conference
Last month, the Sikh Coalition’s legal team hosted and joined seminars on current and emerging legal issues impacting Sikhs and other minorities at the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s annual conference in Washington, D.C.
Legal Director Amrith Kaur Aakre moderated a panel discussion on the workplace discrimination and civil rights violations that have emerged throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for healthcare professionals, including Sikhs. Senior Staff Attorney Giselle Klapper served as a panelist and shared how Sikhs and others who maintain religiously-mandated facial hair were being forced to consider shaving to wear N-95 respirators or risk being terminated from their jobs. Additional panelists included Elizabeth Fox-Solomon (Chief of Staff for the Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), Teresa Murray (Civil Rights Analyst for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), and Louise Betts (Counsel for Appellate Litigation for the U.S. Department of Labor).
COVID-19 Resources Available
A surge in COVID-19 cases, driven by the Omicron variant, continues across the United States. Earlier this week, the FDA and CDC announced changes to the recommendations around ‘booster’ doses of the vaccine--most notably by recommending that fully vaccinated children aged 12-17 get a ‘booster’ dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Review our updated fact sheets on ‘booster’ shots in English
for more information.
Follow the Sikh Coalition on Twitter
, and Instagram
to continue receiving the latest federal information on COVID-19 safety practices and recommendations. In addition, you can visit our website
to access the Sikh Coalition’s full library of free COVID-19 vaccine resources; please make sure to also review the rest of our pandemic resources here
In this Issue