New California Law to Prevent Bullying of Sikh and Muslim Students

CA Governor Jerry Brown signs Safe Place to Learn Act to protect Muslim and Sikh students from bullying.

The aim of the Safe Place to Learn Act or AB 2845 is to prevent discrimination, harassment, and bullying against Muslim and Sikh students in the classrooms of California. This new law will provide teachers, staff, and administrators with resources that will help them to identify, prevent, and find a solution to bullying and discrimination happening in their schools. The bill comes in the wake of the rise in incidents reported in the California. The law requires the superintendent of public instruction to publish any religion-based discrimination resources on its website.

The law was drafted by various organizations representing minorities such as CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), AAAJ-CA (Asian Americans Advancing Justice – California), SALDEF (Sikh American Legal Defense & Education Fund), and the Sikh Coalition. The bill was sponsored by Das Williams, a member of the California State Assembly from the 37th district. The bill was passed in the California Assembly unanimously (79-0 and 34-3 in the CA Senate) and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.

A study conducted by CAIR prior to AB 2845 showed around 55 percent of Muslim students attending California public schools were subject to some sort of discrimination because of their religion. This was double the national statistic at that time. The Sikh Coalition also found around 50 percent of Sikh students also suffered discrimination because of their religion.

Harjit Kaur, The Sikh Coalition’s community development manager, in an interview given to NBC News, said, “This is a landmark bill for California that will curb bullying and discrimination in the classroom.” Civil rights attorney for CAIR, Saad Sweilem, said “Students from both communities played an instrumental role in getting this bill passed by testifying in front of assembly members about their own personal experiences being bullied. Our hope is that this bill provides our schools the resources they need so that they are prepared to handle these types of situations. Because of our current social and political climate, this issue is a major one and we’re very hopeful that this bill will tackle it head on.”

Press Release AB 2845 by World Religion News on Scribd

California Policy Manager of Advancing Justice, Andrew Medina said, “AB 2845 will ensure that students who are faced with Islamophobia are provided the assistance and support they need when faced with school bullying and discrimination. These resources are essential to ensure student academic success because it is often difficult for children to learn in a fearful environment.”

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