Catharine Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education, posted the following statement on the Department of Education's official blog in June of this year. It is sad to note that this is still a necessary statement in the 21st Century in the United States of America. Sad, but true. Religious bias continues to exist. Of the 10,000 cases reported to OCR last year, 21 percent were related to race and national origin discrimination and more than 450 involved racial or national origin harassment.
"No student – whether Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, or of any other religious background – should experience barriers to learning and success in school because of who the student is or what the student believes."
The Department of Education Office of Civil Rights launched a web page in July to consolidate resources about religious discrimination. Included in these resources are an updated civil rights complaint form, an expanded survey of America's public schools on religious-based bullying, technical assistance for schools, and recent outreach on confronting religious harassment in education. These resources can help teachers and schools recognize the importance of protecting each and every student.Religious Discrimination Website
Updated Online Complaint Form
New data is required from public schools this year. Schools are now required to report to OCR the number of incidents of religious-based bullying or harassment. This new information will be reported through The Civil Rights Data Collection.
Religious Bias exists. Why? As a white, female, Christian, I have been told all of my life in my United Methodist Church that Jesus is the one true God and the path to salvation. Knowing this, I sought to determine my implicit religious bias by taking the Harvard Implicit Bias test. Based on my IAT I was able to see that my bias prioritized Christianity and Islam over other religions. All of the tested religions were on the positive end of the spectrum, but Christianity and Islam were side by side on the spectrum. Perhaps this is due to my direct work with Muslim teachers and administrators over the past ten years. I have also taught with Hindu and Jews which were ranked lower down the scale on my results. Reflecting on these results means that I must take steps to carefully consider my actions in the classroom and with my peers. As our public schools become more and more diverse, the teachers continue to be less diverse. New training and insight are necessary for our teachers and schools to understand our bias and to teach the next generation of public school students.
I encourage you to take the Implicit Bias Test for religions.
Professional Development regarding Religious Diversity is available for FREE!!
Learn how schools can teach religious tolerance -- and stay within constitutional bounds.
Suzanne Rogers, M.Ed.
District Director of Professional development, AP English Teacher, ELA Coach and cradle United Methodist.
Thank you to the Teacher Practice Network, Arkansas Public School Resource Center, A Project of the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning at WestEd, with funding by the Gates Foundation. #TPNlead