New Delhi, 30, November, 2021: A total of 43 LGBTQIA+ groups from the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in Delhi, Bombay, Kanpur, and Kharagpur, as well as 700 others, have raised their voice to bring back the teacher training manual on gender identity and expression titled “Inclusion of Transgender Children in School Education: Concerns and Roadmap”.
For this, they have written an open letter to the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), Union Ministries of Social Justice and Empowerment, Education, Women and Child Development, and National Council for Transgender Persons (NCPT), respectively.
Note: This happened as the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) had removed the teachers’ training manual on integration of transgender or gender non-conforming students in schools from its website, days after the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) sought rectification of “anomalies” in the document.
What does the Teacher Training Manual Propose?
- To create awareness among teachers on dealing with gender non-confirming students, while suggesting strategies to make school premises inclusive for them.
- To create gender-neutral toilets in schools.
- To introduce gender-neutral uniforms or allow students to wear clothes they are comfortable in and shun practises that segregate children on the basis of gender.
- To suggest teachers to talk to students about puberty blockers that don’t allow the body to grow normally by blocking hormones (testosterone and estrogen)
- To introduce teachers to a sea of possibilities including terms like biological sex, gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation, intersex persons, cisgender, transgender, gender incongruence, gender dysphoria, gender affirmation, gender queer, and non-binary among others.
- To inform how gender binary rules at schools, such as the guideline of separate uniforms for boys and girls, gender-specific seating arrangements, toilets, participation in sports or even keeping a certain hairstyle can cause discomfort to gender non-confirming children.
- To sensitise teachers about strategies to reduce the fear and discomfort of such children by ensuring gender non-confirming restrooms, changing rooms, and hostels.
Open Letter: Issues Raised
The open letter supports the idea that the recognition of one’s gender identity lies at the heart of the fundamental Right to Life – Protection of Life and Personal Liberty (Article 21*) and is guaranteed under the Constitution of India.
*Article 21 of Constitution of India states that “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law.”
For this, the community has raised the following issues:
- It has condemned NCERT for being transphobic.
- It has demanded a public apology for actively participating in gender-based prejudice.
- It has raised the issue that the text of the manual suggests gender-neutral infrastructure for children that is not in line with their gender realities and basic needs
- It has brought forth the idea that creating and removing binaries shall deny them equal rights of children of diverse biological needs.
- It has expressed that the approach of gender-based segregation will expose children to psychological trauma due to contradictory environments at home and in school.
Note: While the document has been removed from public domain, the NCERT is yet to release its answer.