1 in 3 U.S. Hindu Students Bullied for Their Religious Beliefs

Report details the bullying and bias that Hindu American youths face in American schools that the Hindu American Foundation says are the result of cultural stereotypes and textbook inaccuracies.

Being a teenager is tough, but according to the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), even more so for Hindu American students. The advocacy organization for the Hindu American community has released its 2016 Bullying in American Schools report that includes testimonies and data demonstrating how Hindu American students are being singled out, bullied and ostracized by their peers.

The report has several key findings:

  • One out of three respondents said they had been bullied for their religious beliefs
  • About one in four respondents said they had been bullied within the past year, with about a third saying those who bullied them were “making fun of Hindu traditions”
  • About one in eight respondents said their teachers made sarcastic remarks about Hinduism in front of a class
  • Half of the total sample size indicated feelings of awkwardness or social isolation because of their religious identity
  • More than three out of five respondents said that their schools focus on caste and Hinduism, including inaccurate claims about the religion and Indian social practice
  • About one out of every four respondents surveyed said she/he was put on the spot or singled out by a teacher when the section on Hinduism was discussed

View the report charts.

Of those who had shared anecdotes, most highlighted a sense of alienation for being a different religion, particularly one not understood well in most U.S. classrooms or textbooks. As a result, some respondents said they hid their religious identity in order to prevent or stop bullying. Others reported deep emotional scars from bullying incidents.

One of the biggest sources of anxiety cited by the youths in the bullying report was the way their religion is inaccurately portrayed in textbooks.

  • 63 percent of surveyed youths reported that their units on Hinduism included claims that Hindus worship cows as a sacred animal
  • About 53 percent said that their units described Hindus as worshiping idols
  • Nearly 25 percent reported that their classes taught that “most Hindus do not believe in dating and will get an arranged marriage”
  • 60 percent reported that Hinduism was linked with the caste system, with 47 percent noting that their units on Hinduism taught them that “higher castes discriminate against lower castes”
  • 40 percent of respondents said their units taught them that “individuals can only marry people of the same caste”
  • 20 percent said their instructional content claimed that “the caste system only exists because of Hinduism”

The release of the bullying report is part of HAF’s larger campaign to help foster safe spaces for Hindu American students and promote cultural competency in classrooms across America.

View the report charts.

Read the report.

Photos & graphs HAF

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