Colorado Sikhs ask schools, politicians for help to fight bullying, ignorance about their faith

Posted at 4:46 PM, Aug 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-10 17:33:59-04

DENVER – The Colorado Sikh community is reaching out to school districts and politicians alike to help them in their fight against bullying and intolerance in schools across the state.

During a meeting on Aug. 7 at the State Capitol, the Colorado Sikh community met with educators and Republican Congressman Mike Coffman with the goal of spreading knowledge of their faith and their culture to reduce bullying and discrimination against their children, according to the Aurora Sentinel.

During the meeting, the Sikh community argued that adding their faith to the world religion curriculum taught on high school social studies courses, would help the community have a better understanding of what the Sikh community believes in.

The newspaper reports the Colorado Sikh community reached out to the Colorado Board of Education to ask that they include their faith in the curriculum, but in a conversation with Denver7, a spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Education said it’s not up to the board to decide what to put on the curriculum.

“The state does not dictate school districts what kind of curriculum to use,” Colorado Department of Education spokesman Jeremy Meyer said. He added there are standards the department implements, but there is room for each school district in the state to add more religions, if they so choose to.

The current standards for history lessons state the following:

“Discuss the historical development and impact of major world religions and philosophies. Topics to include but not limited to the Enlightenment and modern changes in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.”

“What is taught about the religions is curriculum that is left to the individual local school districts to determine. That of course could include curriculum around the Sikh religion,” said Meyer. “But, again, that is up to schools and districts to determine.”

In a statement sent to Denver7 on Thursday, Coffman said he would continue to assist the Sikhs in their efforts for inclusion.

"I think it very important that all of us better understand the rich culture the Sikhs have brought to this nation and also the many contributions Sikhs have made to its betterment," Coffman said, through a statement provided by his office. 

A member for Aurora Public Schools, Dan Jorgensen, went to the Aug. 7 meeting and said he appreciated what the Sikh community brought to the table.

“I’m personally supportive of the request being made to include the Sikh religion…within our world religion curriculum should it be absent,” Jorgensen told the Aurora Sentinel.

Sikhism is included in the curriculum for Denver Public Schools, a spokesperson for the district told Denver7 Thursday. 

"In 6th and 7th grade, it [Sikhism] is included in the new social studies resources in the world religion handbook, as well as a unit on southeast Asia," said DPS spokeswoman Jessie Smiley.

Founded over 500 years ago, Sikhism boasts a following of over 20 million people worldwide. It is ranked the fifth-largest religion in the world