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California has passed a new law aimed at providing a safer environment to students of minority communities. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the legislation that protects Sikhs, Muslims and South Asian-origin students, and those mistaken to belong to those groups, from bullying and discrimination. Also Read - 'Pained to See Muslims Being Painted as Anti-Hindus': Chennai Muslim Businessman Donates Rs 1 Lakh For Ram Temple
AB 2845, also known as the ‘Safe Place to Learn Act’, was passed unanimously in the California Assembly by a vote of 79 to 0 and 34 to 3 in the California Senate.
“This is a landmark bill for California. It will help curb bullying and discrimination in the classroom,” Harjit Kaur, Community Development Manager for the Sikh Coalition, told NBC News.
“AB 2845 ensures the right of every child to practice his/her faith freely in public schools. We look forward to implementing this bill and engaging with communities and schools across California to address bullying and discrimination in the classroom,” she added.
The law provides the school staff with school-site and community resources to curb bullying. The law requires the superintendent of public instruction to publish anti-bullying resources related to religious and perceived religious affiliation on its website.
“[This bill] is very important to Muslim and Sikh children because both of our communities have seen a huge rise in the bullying of Muslim and perceived to be Muslim students,” Saad Sweilem, civil rights attorney at CAIR-Sacramento Valley (CAIR-SV), told NBC News.
“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,” Sweilem added.
The law sponsored by Assembly member Das Williams (D-37) was developed in collaboration with The Sikh Coalition, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), AAAJ-CA, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
According to CAIR, 55 percent of Muslim students attending California public schools surveyed experience bullying based on their religious identity. According to The Sikh Coalition, 50 percent of Sikh students and 67 percent of turbaned Sikh American students nationally have experienced school bullying.
This story was originally published on The American Bazaar.