December 2, 2022 (Salt Lake City, UT) – Yesterday, the Utah State Board of Education voted in favor of new social studies standards, which for the first time ever include Sikhism.
These new standards will give 606,000 students in Utah the opportunity to learn about the Sikh community. This is another significant milestone in the Sikh Coalition’s multi-year campaign to raise Sikh awareness for generations to come by ensuring access to accurate information on Sikhism for every public school student across the nation.
"Thanks to these new educational standards, students across our state can learn about Sikhism--which means safer schools for my children in Utah, and better cultural education for all," said sangat member Manjit Singh of Salt Lake City. “We are grateful to the Sikh Coalition for leading efforts in this important initiative for more representative and inclusive curricula.”
The update to Utah’s social studies standards resulted from years of advocacy. In May 2020, the Sikh Coalition made the initial request for Sikhism to be included in the new standards. In December 2021, we facilitated a sign-on letter with both Utah gurdwaras and submitted another formal request for the inclusion of Sikhism. Finally, to ensure that this update was secured, the Sikh Coalition facilitated the public testimony of Sikh community members and students at a Utah State Board of Education meeting in December 2021.
“We are pleased that the Utah State Board of Education has listened to the needs of their local Sikh community to be represented and included in their state standards,” added Harman Singh, Sikh Coalition Senior Education Manager. “Inclusive and accurate standards are an important first step to combat bigotry and to reduce bullying, and they benefit all students by increasing baseline cultural competency and decreasing ignorance.”
Local adoption and exploration of the new, more inclusive standards will begin after the Utah Board of Education develops a model curriculum in the coming months, and implementation will take place in the months and years to follow. The Sikh Coalition will continue to work closely with the Utah Department of Education during this process.
Utah is now the 15th in a growing list of states
that have worked with the Sikh Coalition to include accurate information about Sikhs in their public school social studies standards. These efforts mean that more than 24 million students from coast to coast have the possibility of a more inclusive and holistic education. We look forward to adding even more states to this list in the months and years ahead through continued advocacy alongside sangats.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.