(SAN DIEGO, CA, 9/27/16) â€“ The California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CA) today applauded Governor Jerry Brown for signing a historic bill, introduced by Assembly member Das Williams (AB) 2845, which will protect vulnerable Muslim and Sikh students who are facing bullying in school.
The bill will require the California Department of Education (CDE), as part of its compliance monitoring, to assess whether local educational agencies have provided information to staff on school site and community resources for students who are subject to discrimination and bullying based on actual or perceived religious affiliation. It also requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction to post anti-bullying resources related to affiliation or perceived affiliation with any religion, nationality, race, or ethnicity on its website.Â
AB 2845 is co-sponsored by Asian Americans Advancing Justice – California (Advancing Justice-CA), Council on American-Islamic Relations, California Chapter (CAIR – CA), Sikh American Legal Defense & Education Fund (SALDEF), and the Sikh Coalition.
â€œThis is a good first step in the right direction,â€ said Hanif Mohebi, executive director of CAIR-San Diego.Â â€œIt will be much easier now to work with school districts to provide a safe place for all students to learn.â€
â€œHaving school site and community resources available to students experiencing bullying is a big step forward to ensuring a safer environment for our kids,â€ said Sameena Usman, government relations Coordinator for CAIR-San Francisco Bay Area. â€œWe welcome the support from our governor and legislators in addressing this serious issue.â€
AB 2845 is the first and only bill directly addressing the issue of Islamophobia in California. The negative tone in our national politics has enflamed a disturbing trend of scapegoating and fear-mongering targeting American Muslims.
Recently, a spike in hate crimes aimed at Muslims and Sikhs has occurred across the nation, including physical assaults and the defacement of religious sites in California. The Cal State San Bernardino Center on Hate & Extremism has reported that Anti-Muslim hate crimes have increased 122 percent in California between 2014 and 2015. AB 2845 aims to address potential spikes in bullying and discrimination in our public education system as a result of increased Islamophobia.
â€œAB 2845 will ensure that students who are faced with Islamophobia are provided the assistance and support they need when faced with school bullying and discrimination,â€ said Andrew Medina, California policy manager of Advancing Justice – CA. â€œThese resources are essential to ensure student academic success because it is often difficult for children to learn in a fearful environment.â€œÂ
In a recent study, CAIR-CA reported that 55 percent of American Muslim students attending California public schools experience some form of bullying based on their religious identity. That is twice as high as the national statistic for students who report being bullied at school.
CAIR-CA also found that American Muslim youth continue to identify student-teacher relations as needing improvement in addressing such bullying. Similarly, the Sikh Coalition has reported that 50 percent of Sikh students have encountered school bullying. This number increases significantly for turbaned Sikh students, 67 percent of whom have encountered bullying.Â In Fresno, 51 percent of the students surveyed by the Sikh Coalition reported that they felt school officials did not respond adequately to bullying incidents.
“Every child has the right to a safe and nurturing learning environment. This bill provides educators, students and parents with resources to help ensure that right,” said Harjit Kaur, community development manager for The Sikh Coalition.Â
The statutes prescribed by AB 2845 will take effect starting January 1, 2017.Â Â Â
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
La misiÃ³n de CAIR es mejorar la comprensiÃ³n del Islam, fomentar el diÃ¡logo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensiÃ³n mutua.
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CONTACT: CAIR-San Diego Executive Director Hanif Mohebi, 858-774-9991, CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448, firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, email@example.com ,CAIR-SFBA Executive Director Zahra Billoo, 626.252.0885, firstname.lastname@example.org