March 14, 2022 (Whiteland, IN) -- Earlier this afternoon, the Sikh Coalition hosted a Sikh awareness training for more than 100 administrators and staff at Whiteland Community High School (WCHS) in Whiteland, Indiana. This training comes exactly one week after our client safely returned to school
after facing severe bias-motivated harassment and assault in February.
In the aftermath of our client’s assault, school administrators responded quickly to both ensuring the immediate safety of our client and committing to action steps that will begin to address the broader issues of bias-based bullying at WCHS and within its district. At today’s training, WCHS educators learned about the Sikh faith and community, and how to recognize and respond to incidents of religious-based bullying that may take place at school.
"No one deserves to be targeted for their faith or for anything else that makes them unique--especially at school," said Harman Singh, Sikh Coalition Senior Manager of Education. “This training is a good first step and, in the weeks and months ahead, we look forward to strengthening our dialogue with school administrators and bringing forward additional opportunities for area educators to get involved.”
As a reminder, on February 23, a group of students began filming our client and other Punjabi students eating lunch in the cafeteria, making statements including “Why do you wear these turbans” and “Why are you here?” After our client tried to prevent them from filming, several students proceeded to assault him, including by knocking his turban off of his head and trampling it, and making bigoted remarks about his turban and his race throughout the assault. In the aftermath of the assault, our client was suspended for five days for ‘getting in a fight.’
On March 4, school officials committed to a plan that ensured our client’s safe return to school, provided him with resources to make up for lost instruction, and removed the suspension from his record. WCHS officials have also agreed to review and update the school’s anti-bias, Sikh awareness, and cultural competence programming for students and school staff. In our continued engagement with WCHS officials, we will advocate for every educator across the school district to receive the training delivered earlier today, and in turn, become better equipped to respond to issues of bias-based bullying.
Additionally, because Indiana includes teaching about Sikhism in its social studies standards, there are multiple opportunities to engage educators in raising Sikh awareness in the classroom. Please visit our website
for lesson plans, reading lists, and other resources that you can share with your teachers today. In the coming months, we will also present additional opportunities for engaging key stakeholders in bringing teaching about Sikhism to 7th-grade classrooms. For additional questions about our education work, email email@example.com
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.