Classroom Subjected: Bullying and Bias against Hindu Students in American Schools
Hindu American students continue to be bullied and feel socially ostracized for their religious beliefs, according to results of HAF's nationwide survey of middle and high school students. Download the report here.
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HAF’s report highlights the results and conclusions from survey responses collected from 335 middle and high school students during a six-week period in late summer/early fall of 2015. The respondents - ranging from grade levels six to twelve - who completed the survey do not comprise a representative sample of the entire Hindu American student population, but their answers nonetheless help to show the different ways in which Hindu students can be singled out, bullied, and ostracized by their peers. More importantly, the responses from the survey show how schools need to improve the ways in which they address anti-Hindu sentiment, both from pedagogical and bullying prevention standpoints.
“I am saddened, but not at all surprised by the findings of this study conducted by the Hindu American Foundation. The first step in solving any problem is recognition that the problem exists. This study, although limited in scope, should be sufficient to convince educators that we need to all work together to prevent these kinds of problems. Also, it would be of great value if a larger, more comprehensive study were to be undertaken.” — U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), the first and only Hindu member of Congress.
"Bullying has no place in our society, especially in our classrooms. As someone who was bullied growing up, simply because of my ethnicity, I am heartbroken by the reality of the Hindu American Foundation's report on the shameful treatment of our Hindu American students.This report sheds light on the emotional and social impact of bullying. These young people deserve a quality education without fear of being targeted. Young and old, everyone deserves the right to life and freedom of religion, without fear or persecution. As the founder and chair of the Congressional Anti-Bullying Caucus, I am fighting to raise greater awareness and to end the bullying epidemic that harms lives and communities. We can—we must—do better to protect the promise of these young people.” — U.S. Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA)
“As a former teacher and school administrator, I know first-hand how important a safe and secure learning environment is in providing quality education for our children. Bullying is a serious, harrowing issue for many Hindu students in U.S. schools, as this study shows. It is my hope that this new report leads to a broader discussion of how we can all work together to ensure every child, regardless of race, religion, or ethnicity, receives the positive and fulfilling school experience they deserve.” — U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)
“Bullying of any kind is unacceptable. In this age of social media and mobile technology, many kids can’t get away from this hurtful behavior when they leave school. I commend the Hindu American Foundation for their efforts and I look forward to continuing to work on this important issue.” — U.S. Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA)
“The Hindu American Foundation’s report highlights and details the many prejudices Hindu students continue to face in America’s schools today. The last thing children should have to worry about is being bullied or ostracized for their religion. The results of this study show the need to institutionalize diversity, cultural competency, and tolerance in our classrooms settings. While this report has shed some light on this ongoing issue, we must continue to ensure that people all over this country feel safe and comfortable while expressing their freedom of religion.” — U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA)
“This study makes it clear that we have a problem—and now that we’ve identified it, we have to address it. I’m grateful to the Hindu American Foundation for putting us on notice, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to find a solution. We need to teach our children that differences make us special, and we need to ensure our classrooms are safe spaces for every student.” — U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson-Coleman (D-NJ)
"Growing up in the United States, I understand the challenges Hindu American students face when it comes to overcoming negative stereotypes regarding our culture and religious traditions. The Hindu American Foundation is publishing this timely report studying such trends that lead to bullying and its often unintended consequences." — Ro Khanna, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Commerce
"This study is a promising beginning: It draws attention to an under-acknowledged problem, and it gives us a sense of that problem's scope and nature. What we need now is comprehensive follow-up among researchers, educators, students, and school administrators to implement solutions going forward. Young Hindu students across the country have every reason to feel empowered by their magnificent tradition, and studies like these will give communities the awareness and resources to ensure a nurturing, respectful school environment." — Dr. Amit Majmudar, Poet Laureate of Ohio
“I welcome HAF’s efforts to combat intolerance in the classrooms. For far too long, Hindu students, like their peers of other minority groups, have faced the burden and shame of being isolated and alienated within their own schools.” — comedian Rajiv Satyal
“Faith-based bullying and bias continues to be a challenge in our schools and in our society, and identifying the different types of faith-based bullying is necessary in order to combat the bullying crisis. HAF’s report provides critical information to highlight how Hindu students are subjected to bullying and bias, and what we as a community can do to solve it. Accordingly, this report is another important step towards fighting religious intolerance wherever it may reside. I am grateful for HAF's leadership in reminding us that combating faith-based bullying in all its forms and manifestations is a shared responsibility for all of us, and taking a stance against bullying provides a unique opportunity for all of us to come together to affirm our American ideals and aspirations of equality and inclusion.” — Varun Soni, Ph.D., Dean of Religious Life, University of Southern California
“The Anti-Defamation League commends HAF for this important study about the impact of bullying on Hindu students. Research has demonstrated that more than 16 percent of bullying incidents in the U.S. involve targeting students because of their religious identity. Studies that highlight this important concern point to the need for additional research into the impact of identity-based bullying on Hindu students and those of all religious backgrounds.” — Seth Gordon-Lipkin, Project Director, Education, Anti-Defamation League
“Sikhism is the 5th largest independent religion in the world. Due to their physical identity, a Sikh is very easy to identify. The turban, commonly worn by boys, is often a target for bullying. Many girls who choose to tie turbans face the same bullying as well. Especially since the 9/11 attacks, these students have commonly endured being called names such as “Bin Laden”, “ISIS”, and “terrorists.” Of course one of the most frequently used is the assertion to “Go back to your own country.” A general basis for bullying is the false association of the turban with Islam. However, it is important to note that the defense mechanism of a Sikh student will generally never be to denounce Islam to prevent bullying. Rather, because of cultural and religious values, they will stand up for all faiths, and while correcting the mistaken bully, they will not allow the bully think it is ok to use Islam or any other faith as an insult. This is why Sikh Kid 2 Kid supports HAF's efforts to combat bullying against Hindu students. We hope that Sikh, Hindu, and Muslim students continue to have resources to make sure they're in safe classrooms.” — Hana Mangat, Founder, Sikh Kid 2 Kid
The following pieces about the bullying report and Hindu American experiences with bullying have been published in various news sites and blogs. Click the links below to read some of these stories.
- Kavita Pallod's article in the Houston Chronicle
- Kavita Pallod’s essay on Act to Change
- Nimai Shukla’s essay in the Philadelphia Inquirer
- Vivek Pandit’s essay on the HAF blog
- Murali Balaji’s essay on the HAF blog
- Padma Kuppa’s essay in Patheos
- Harsh Voruganti’s essay in the Huffington Post
- Aditi Dinakar's essay on Act to Change
HAF’s efforts are part of a larger effort to combat bullying of all kinds. HAF is a proud participating organization in the White House Initiative on Asian American Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) Act to Change platform to combat bullying. The resources below are just a sample of the vast resources available to combat bullying and bias in all its forms.