Girls Will Create An Inclusive America

If we want to honestly assess the state of religious diversity in the United States, we need to honestly assess the last four years of the Trump presidency. His administration has been defined by intolerance, by hate. The words and actions and policies of his office—starting with the Muslim Ban after just seven days in his presidency—incited discrimination that gave way to violence. 

So it’s hard to put into words the relief I felt on Election Day, or the relief I expect to feel on Inauguration Day this coming January 20th.  

On that day, President Biden-elect will take his oath of office using a bible that’s been in his family for 127 years—a bible that’s 5 inches thick, adorned with a Celtic cross on its cover, and inscribed with every date that Biden has been sworn into public service. His faith runs deep, his love for his country runs deep, and his love for our people—all our people—even deeper.  

And so this Administration gives me hope that we can rebuild. Or, to use the President-elect’s own transition team slogan, that we can “build back better.” President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris give me hope that we can create a more inclusive world, a strong religiously diverse democracy.  

But when I think about what gives me hope for the future of religious diversity in this country, it’s not just our political leaders or even our spiritual leaders. It’s our girls, the young women who will one day lead this country. Let me explain why.  

I’ve always said that Girls Who Code classrooms look like what the ideal American classroom should look like. Because our classrooms are as diverse as they come.  

We teach girls who are cis and trans, girls who are straight and gay, girls who believe in different Gods or no God at all, girls who were raised rich and girls who were raised poor. We teach girls of every racial background, every ethnic background, from every zip code in America. Our girls learn to code, yes. But more importantly, they learn about one another.  

They are not just tolerant. They are loving, accepting, understanding. Our girls embrace diversity, crave progress, respect those who are different than they are. 

It might be true that Trump and his ilk simply revealed the depths of America’s prejudices. But I truly and honestly believe that our girls, coupled with leadership from this incoming Administration, will reveal the depths of America’s power to love, to heal, and move forward.   

In my faith, in Hinduism, we say "what is your dharma? What are you put on this earth to do?" My dharma has always been to create opportunities for women and girls, to celebrate diversity, to create a more equal world. It’s always been an honor to do so, and an even greater honor to learn from the girls I set out to teach.  

And so to my fellow Americans—for all those who want to continue to build a country that welcomes religious diversity, I say listen to our girls. Learn from our girls. Let our girls lead. We will be better for it.  

Reshma Saujani is the founder of Girls Who Code as well as an attorney and activist.  

If you are looking for a way to become an interfaith leader, work for racial equity and build bridges, please check out our free curriculum "We Are Each Other's" and start your interfaith leadership today

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The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.