A national Sikh Coalition is calling for an investigation after Sikh students at Whiteland Community High School in Indiana allegedly became the victims of “severe bias-motivated harassment and physical assault.”
The targeted students were in the school’s cafeteria when another group of students allegedly knocked a classmate’s turban from his head while filming. Another student was allegedly physically assaulted and verbally attacked with racist remarks when he tried to prevent the group from recording. The assaulted student was later treated for his injuries, but the high school reportedly suspended him along with the other students involved. “I am shaken by what happened to me, and frustrated that I am being punished for being targeted and beaten,” the student said in a statement released by the Sikh Coalition. “To attack another person’s faith — to strike at my turban — is completely unacceptable. No one should have to face that threat anywhere, let alone at school.”
A daily dose of Asian America's essential stories, in under 5 minutes.
Get our collection of Asian America's most essential stories to your inbox daily for free.
Unsure? Check out our Newsletter Archive.
The Sikh American advocacy group that defends Sikh civil rights noted the assault is not the first case of bullying against Sikh students at the school.
“We believe there is a pattern of bullying Punjabi Sikh students — especially those wearing turbans — that has gone unaddressed by WCHS administrators,” Sikh Coalition Legal Director Amrith Kaur Aakre said. “We expect officials from the school to address this concern, rescind our client’s suspension and provide him with tutoring for the instruction he has now missed, and share a plan for the safety of him and other students like him.”
The coalition, which offered the student legal support, stated, “There is a broad failure at WCHS with respect to bias-based bullying,” and are now asking for justice from the school officials.
According to the school district, local law enforcement and school administrators are currently investigating the incident, as of Feb. 25.
“Clark-Pleasant Schools wants everyone in the school community to know that we will not tolerate any type of racism, bigotry violence or discrimination in our schools and we have worked tirelessly to bring about a culture that supports diversity, equity and inclusion within the school district,” the district said in a statement.
“The superintendent’s office has reached out to several department heads for input that will help all students better understand The Warrior Way which is to Be Responsible, Be Respectful and Be Safe!” they added.