Bullying. Sikh parents worry about this every school year. Many try to talk to their children’s teachers and peers about their heritage and identity in hopes of raising tolerance and acceptance. But it is not an easy task.
Ravinder Kaur Birgi, of Howard County, has a son in elementary school and a son in middle school. When they were in preschool, it was easy to just go in and talk to their class. She especially liked to take along a vaja and tabla for them to play shabads. It has been more difficult to do this in the public schools.
She has not been able to visit any of her 8-year-old son, Jay’s, classes because the principal won’t agree to it. But she does what she can. She is allowed to talk to the staff about the kesh and patka.
“It’s like a ceremony in the main office,” she said. They learn how to tie a patka on Jay in case it comes undone.
Outreach becomes more difficult as kids move on to higher grades. Her 13-year-old son, Veer, is in middle school with many more classes and teachers. It is impossible to reach everyone that interacts with him.
Education is an uphill battle for parents. The only way students at all grade levels can learn about Sikhs, or any other topic, is if information is imbedded into the lesson plans, educators said.