HOUSTON, TEXAS, July 3, 2013 (Indo American News): When the parents of two young Hindu American boys contacted community leaders for help in getting answers from school authorities about the incessant bullying their children were facing at their Humble district school, the Hindu community rallied quickly to support the family and help find solutions to prevent such suffering from occurring in the future.
After being alerted to the situation, the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) immediately began working with the Hindus of Greater Houston (HGH) to write a coalition letter to the Humble Independent School District (Humble ISD) — some 17 Houston-based Hindu and Indian organizations joined the cause. This began a dialogue between the district’s leadership and the Hindu American community. The Hindu community attended the school board meeting to express their concerns about the situation and found the Board receptive to their grievances. However, the superintendent of Humble ISD chose not to have a separate meeting with HAF and HGH representatives to address the situation.
“We learned some valuable lessons through the process of engaging Humble ISD,” said Dev Mahajan, Chairman, Advisory Board, HGH. “We learned the importance of knowing the formal complaint process, how language, tone, and timing play a really important role in getting results, and perhaps the most important lesson – the need for our community to come together and organize formally to advocate for our needs in the way Jewish organizations have through Jewish Federations in local communities across the nation.”
HAF and HGH also engaged the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to talk with Humble ISD. What was initially to be an intimate face to face conversation, became a fruitful meeting of nine leaders from the Houston Hindu community and ADL staff and leadership. The ADL has a number of programs and resources targeted at helping schools combat bullying, including an initiative called No Place for Hate. ADL worked with Humble ISD as they agreed to adopt the No Place for Hate program to begin training their teachers.
Despite this progress, the victims of the bullying have not found peace and security at school, and they have chosen to be home schooled. The parents of the victims did not receive the assurances from the school district that they needed to feel safe in sending their children back to school.
This initiative by HAF to address anti-Hindu bullying is part of a larger focus on education which centers on textbook reform.