WHITELAND, Ind. — The Sikh Coalition is hosting an awareness training for more than 100 administrators, staff and educators at Whiteland Community High School. The goal is to ensure what happened to one student, doesn't happen to anyone else.
"This training comes exactly one week after our client, a Sikh student had a safe return to school," said Harman Singh, Sikh Coalition senior education manager.
Singh said the senior was targeted in an incident at school in February because of his faith. The student, who wishes to remain anonymous to protect his privacy, released this statement to the Sikh Coalition:
"I am shaken by what happened to me, and frustrated that I am being punished for being targeted and beaten. To attack another person's faith — to strike at my turban — is completely unacceptable. No one should have to face that threat anywhere, let alone at school.
Sixty-seven percent of Sikh students with turbans report bullying and Sikh students are bullied at more than two times the national average. So what we saw happen here at the end of February was not just something that occurred that day, but there were a number of incidents that led up to it."
13News was not allowed inside the school for the training. Singh said it will focus on educating school administrators and staff on the basics of the Sikh religion. The training aims to identify and prevent religious biases, too.
The Sikh Coalition is also calling for a wider examination of how school officials handle these kinds of issues.
"There's a lot of vulnerability for children when they are Sikh and when they are in schools, and so we want to make sure educators can identify that, they know how to engage with their students and they know how to address challenges when they do occur," Singh said.
The Sikh Coalition hopes schools district-wide will hold similar trainings in the future.