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Sikh Students and Cultural Awareness

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Sikh Students and Bias Incidents
Sikh Student Studying

Sikh Student Studying

Photo © [Kulpreet Singh]

Sikh Students and Turbans

Many Sikh students wear turbans to school. The Sikh Student in this photograph is wearing style of turban called a Patka.

Sikh children, born to Amritdhari Sikh parents, have long hair which has never been cut since birth. By the time they are school age, the hair of the Sikh child may have grown past their shoulders to the waist or even to the knees in length.

A Sikh child's hair is combed, perhaps braided, and wound into a joora, a kind of topknot secured beneath a protective head covering such as a patka, before going to school.

Bias Incidents Involving Sikh Students at School

Though United States law protects all students civil and religious liberties, many Sikh students endure verbal torment and physical assaults at school because of their turbans. Studies released in 2006 by the Sikh Coalition show that:

  • More than fifty percent of Sikh students have been subjected to ridicule by classmates.
  • About thirty percent of Sikh students who report incidents to faculty members are ignored.
  • Close to forty percent of Sikh students wearing turbans to school have been the target of persecution involving bodily assault.
  • Three quarters of these are boys.

Sometimes when Sikh students are victimized by crimes in schools, such as a California Sikh boy who had his nose broken by a classmate, the assailants are prosecuted without the incident being reported to the media. Several occurrences involving the turbans and hair of Sikh students in Queens, New York, have been highlighted by the media due to the extremity of the episodes and regularity with which such happenings occur while at school.

  • A Sikh student had his patka set on fire by other students.
  • A Sikh girl had several inches of her braid cut off by a classmate.
  • A Sikh student had his turban removed, and his long hair forcibly cut by other students.

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