Sikh Coalition Fights for Legislation Against Book Bans

Featured & Cover Sikh Coalition Fights for Legislation Against Book Bans

Over the past few months, the Sikh Coalition has been working diligently to advocate state-level legislation that confronts an increasing trend of book bans and targeted political attacks on literature representing marginalized communities in K-12 public schools and public libraries.

As a start to this body of work, we have filed letters of support for proactive and protective bills in Washington state, Colorado, Maryland, and Pennsylvania; you can track our work on these issues here. The Washington state bill, HB 2331, was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee on March 26. As an additional means of supporting this kind of legislation, in February, Sikh Coalition Senior Education Manager Savleen Singh provided testimony in support of Colorado’s anti-book ban bill SB24-049. The Sikh Coalition is also exploring ways to oppose measures that actively work to suppress the voices of marginalized communities, increase censorship, and even criminalize efforts to protect the freedom to read—such as our letter of opposition to Utah’s House Bill 29.

“The Sikh Coalition chooses to support the freedom to read for several reasons,” explains Sikh Coalition Senior Policy Manager Harmeet Kaur Kamboj. “First, Sikh authors have had their books banned just like authors from many other communities. Second, the banning of books that shed light on marginalized groups denies students the chance to explore cultures and perspectives outside of their own—and to develop an appreciation for those cultures and perspectives. And finally, book bans are increasingly targeted political efforts that prioritize ideological agendas over shared values like freedom of speech and the marketplace of ideas.”

The Sikh Coalition will continue to assess this space for further advocacy, given how the growing trend of increasing book bans is explicitly linked to other politically-motivated advocacy against the teaching of so-called ‘divisive’ concepts such as systemic discrimination, white supremacy, and other issues affecting faith communities like ours. For more information about how we approach the intersection of school bullying, inclusive curricula, and difficult topics like book bans or Critical Race Theory, please view our Policy Principles for Creating Safer and More Inclusive Schools, which includes information about the legislation we support or oppose and an extensive community FAQ. In addition, we will be hosting a Sikh Coalition Live on Instagram on April 8 at 7:30 PM ET to discuss these topics and more with author and Sikh Coalition Fellow Dr. Simran Jeet Singh, Director of the Hoboken Public Library Jennie Pu, and Harmeet Kaur Kamboj.

Alongside this work, we are continuing to make strides in providing resources of Sikhi history that are accurate and accessible. On March 20, Sikh Coalition Senior Education Manager Savleen Singh presented “Unveiling Bhagat Singh Thind’s Journey”, a lesson plan developed by the Sikh Coalition and Dr. Pritpal Kaur, to more than 20 social studies educators at the Los Angeles County Office of Education. As a reminder, you can find this lesson plan and all of our resources available for free on our website.

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