‘Inclusion of Transgender Children in School Education: Concerns and Roadmap,’ published by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), is a teacher training guidebook.
It was released by NCERT’s Department of Gender Studies to sensitize teachers about LGBTQIA+ children at schools
Creating awareness and training teachers
Through full glossary, the manual discusses concepts like gender identity, gender incongruence, gender dysphoria, gender affirmation, gender expression, gender conformance, gender variance, heterosexuality, homosexuality, asexuality, bisexuality, and transnegativity.
It also defines terminology such as gender fluid, agender, transfeminine, and transmasculine, which people use to identify themselves.
The training manual aims to sensitise “teachers and teacher educators regarding aspects of gender diversity keeping gender-nonconforming and transgender children at centre stage.”
Few of its provisions
It outlines practises and strategies for making schools more attentive to transgender and gender nonconforming students.
These tactics include, among other things, gender-neutral restrooms and clothes, non-teaching staff sensitization, ending practises that segregate children into various school activities depending on their gender, and inviting members of the transgender community to speak on campus.
It claims that youngsters are brainwashed into believing that there are only two sexes, men and women, by using conventional toilet segregation.
The document says, “The use of toilets, an infrastructural facility, is used to condition children into binary gender; female children are conditioned to use the toilets labeled ‘girls’ and male children are to use the toilet marked for ‘boys’”.
Different people associated with it
It also has a section that lists the accomplishments of transgender role models.
It features engineer Grace Banu, bodybuilder Aryan Pasha, dancer Narthaki Nataraj, community researcher Santa Khurai, university professor Manobi Bandyopadhyay, medical doctor and professor Dr Aqsa Shaikh, news anchor Padmini Prakash, among others.
Dr L Ramakrishnan, Vice President, Solidarity and Action Against The HIV Infection in India (SAATHII), who was part of the team preparing the training material, says, “Holistic initiatives to prevent violence faced by transgender and gender-nonconforming children must take into account the harassment they experience at school.
When teachers are proactive in affirming their existence and supporting their contributions, dropout rates will decline. The children will be able to enjoy their childhood, complete their education, and find employment.”
Randhoni Lairikyengbam and Biswa Bhusan Pattanayak conducted field research for his contributions to the NCERT training materials.
Lairikyengbam, one of SAATHII’s Assistant Directors, has worked on the Sangraha project in Manipur, Telangana, and Odisha, with an emphasis on reducing violence and prejudice against LGBTIQ+ people in multiple sectors, including education.
In 2018, her team cooperated with NCERT on a trainers’ programme in Hyderabad, and she also educated school officials, teachers, and students in her target states about concerns including bullying and inaccessible infrastructure.
Lairikyengbam says, “During my interactions with school administrators, I met a principal from Manipur who was concerned about a transgender boy in his school who had stopped attending classes. This man went to the student’s house to speak with him, and realised that the student was uncomfortable with the gendered uniform and faced a lot of bullying. The principal had no training to handle the issue but he genuinely cared about the mental health and the future of the child, so he allowed the student to wear pants instead of a skirt.”
Since 2017, Pattanayak, who is also an Assistant Director at SAATHII, has been working on the Vistaara project to revise language textbooks for Standards VIII-XII in English, Gujarati, Malayalam, and Tamil.
This was done in collaboration with organisations including as Delhi’s Nirantar Trust, Gujarat’s Vikalp, Kerala’s Queerala, and Tamil Nadu’s Nirangal Trust. Gender representation was also examined in natural science and social science textbooks.
He says, “When we examine textbooks, it is crucial to take note of the visuals in addition to the text as they can have a significant impact on the minds of students. It was common to see school textbooks depicting women doing household chores, and men engaging in outdoor activities. There was hardly any scope for non-normative gender expression. Because sex and gender were limited to binaries, intersex people were not even mentioned.”