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Trumping hate: New York schools include lessons on Sikhism in curriculum

An estimated 5 lakh Sikhs live in the United States, a figure that is based on the number of gurdwaras in the US.

punjab Updated: Jul 22, 2018 10:34 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
New York,Sikhism,United States
Pritpal Singh, senior policy adviser for United Sikhs, at the launch of the initiative.(Image courtesy: Facebook )

American students know nothing about their Sikh classmates, who are subject to bullying and ignorance which breeds animosity. And the best way to keep them safe is to educate their teachers and classmates about the Sikhism.

The United Sikhs, a non-profit organisation, in collaboration with New York city’s department of education, have taken an initiative to educate American students about Sikh religion and tradition. Members of the city’s department of education and the United Sikhs came together in Jamaica, Queens, to celebrate a new curriculum for fifth and sixth graders in all five boroughs, reported FOX5NY.

According to the report, Sikh children are bullied in school at more than double the national rate.

College student Satleen Kaur was quoted by FOX5NY as saying: “I faced a lot of bullying and like people picking on my hair.” She is hoping younger generations who observe her religion won’t experience bullying in school the way she did.

Pritpal Singh, senior policy adviser for the United Sikhs, said that 70% of Americans the group surveyed do not recognise Sikhs, reported FOX5NY.

“They have no idea who we are, what our origins are, where we come from or what country we come from. The fact that we come from India is not understood,” Singh was quoted by FOX5NY.

A high school student, Ikroop Singh, said co-students are always staring at you, it feels weird, he said.

This curriculum, which was formally announced on Friday, was first started in some city classrooms in September 2016. At the end of the school year, Sikhism was being taught in 70% of fifth and sixth grade classrooms. The department of education will continue to roll out the curriculum to the remaining schools over the next several years, reported FOX5NY.

An estimated 5 lakh Sikhs live in the United States, a figure that is based on the number of gurdwaras in the US.

According to a survey conducted by the Sikh Coalition, a community-based organisation that defends Sikh civil rights, it was found that up to 67% of Sikh children have said they experienced bullying at school because of their religion. Some reported instances of physical violence, including removal of their turbans by force.

First Published: Jul 22, 2018 10:34 IST