California Is Trying To Keep Muslim And Sikh Students From Being Bullied

Twenty-nine percent of California students who wear hijabs said they’d experienced “offensive touching or pulling of their hijab.” Ten percent said they’d been physically harmed or harassed for being Muslim. Almost 20 percent said their fellow students had made offensive comments to them online. And nearly 20 percent of students said they’d experienced discrimination from a school staff member.

“Having school site and community resources available to students experiencing bullying is a big step forward to ensuring a safer environment for our kids,” said Hussam Ayloush, executive director at CAIR-Los Angeles, which co-sponsored the bill. “We welcome the support from our governor and legislators in addressing this serious issue.” 

Sikh students, meanwhile, faced similar rates of bullying. A recent study conducted by the Sikh Coalition found that more than half of Sikh children in four states, including California, experience bullying at school. That number jumps to 67 percent for Sikh students who wear turbans. In Fresno, according to the study, over half of the students surveyed said school officials didn’t respond adequately to bullying incidents.

Americans of the Sikh faith ― a religion distinct from Islam ― are often the targets of anti-Muslim violence, harassment and prejudice. 

“Every child has the right to a safe and nurturing learning environment,” said Harjit Kaur, community development manager for the Sikh Coalition, another co-sponsor of the legislation. “This bill provides educators, students and parents with resources to help ensure that right.”

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