Indiana is set to become the second state in the United States to include Sikh history and culture into the public school curriculum.
Indiana Superintendent Glenda Ritz announced the plan at a SikhsPAC townhall meeting in Indianapolis, Ind. on Sunday.
The initiative targets three major entry points, including 7th grade world history (Asia, Africa and the Middle East), high school world history and elective high school world religions.
“When (SihksPAC Chairman) Gurinder Singh Khalsa came and spoke with me, he had some requests that Sikhism be introduce into our schools. Really, those requests were welcome,” said Glenda Ritz, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Along with distributing material on Sikhism, Ritz committed to revising grade level standards to specifically reference Sikhs and Sikhism in relevant course. Those standards are due for revision in six years.
Educational awareness is key to reducing incidents of racial violence against Sikhs in Indiana and around the country, said Gurinder Singh Khalsa, SikhsPAC Chairman. According to a report from the Sikh Coalition, Indiana ranks among the worst states in the country in terms of both frequency and intensity of bullying of Sikh children.
Other acts of violence and vandalism are commonplace said Jitender Singh, Indiana entrepreneur and SikhsPAC Outreach Coordinator. He points to pictures on his phone of racial slurs and graffiti on several of his gas pumps.
Much of the instructional material submitted to the agency comes from the Sikh Coalition’s educational implementation team. The group has previously worked on similar initiatives in California.