The National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) had decided to put out a manual to sensitize teachers about transgenders and to blur out boundaries between girls, boys and transgender students and promote equality between genders.
The manual was put up on the council’s official website in the first week of November 2021 and included the creation of gender-neutral toilets in schools, promoting gender-neutral uniforms and mixed rows of students (girls and boys).
The manual was titled “Inclusion of transgender Children in School Education- Concerns and Roadmap” was prepared by the Department of Gender Studies, NCERT.
About The Manual
As per the manual, the training material was designed to spread awareness among teacher educators about aspects of gender diversity with the central idea of gender-nonconforming and transgender children inclusion.
The objective of the proposition of this manual is to reflect upon the sensitization at the school level to improve and enrich the school experience for children belonging to the transgender category.
The idea of social inclusion and the provision of an unbiased educational environment to students from all gender categories, including the non-binary, was the primary aim.
The training manual talks about how gender normative socialising at school and home can leave gender nonconforming children perplexed and how gender binaries are imposed on them through school uniforms, seating arrangements in classrooms, participation in sports and other school activities choice of hairstyle etc.
The manual also aimed at pushing the teachers to consciously overcome their own biases. It also provides practical suggestions for supporting any struggling transgender student who is often forced to drop out of school due to bullying and inappropriate gaze and mockery.
The manual listed out various terms and tried to give a simpler definition for each of them. Terms like gender identity, biological sex, cisgender, sexual orientation, intersex person, gender dysphoria, gender incongruence, bisexual, non-binary and genderqueer offer a more integrating environment for teachers as well as students to have sensitive interpersonal conversations.
The manual was designed taking inputs from transgender scholars, activists and professionals, Bittu Kaveri Rajaraman-Kondaiah, Associate Professor of Biology and Psychology at Ashoka University; Priya Babu, head of Madurai-based Transgender Resource Centre; and Vikramaditya Sahai, Associate at Centre for Law and Policy Research (CLPR) in Bengaluru.
Junking and dropping- The repeal
On November 4, within just a few days of putting up the manual, there were discretions and discontent regarding the same. The material and initiative soon drew attention over the social media and people started backlashing with negative comments especially over the issues of gender-neutral toilets.
“The idea of creating and removing binaries shall deny them equal rights of children of diverse biological needs. Second, this approach will expose children to unnecessary psychological trauma due to contradictory environments at home and in school,” the NCPCR had said in a letter to NCERT.
In the letter, NCPCR also reiterated and commanded NCERT to take appropriate action and rectify the anomalies in the document and verify the contents of the manual thoroughly. The drafting committee and the members who contributed to the document were also questioned over their backgrounds by NCPCR.
Therefore, it was suggested to verify the antecedents of the makers of the manual. The general public, including the parents of school-going children, also participated in the protest and demanded the immediate repeal of the new transgender inclusion manual.
It took around seven years for the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) post landmark National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) verdict to derive a training manual from making education at schools more inclusive so that it focuses on transgender & gender nonconforming children.
Following the rap and growing dissatisfaction of the enterprise, the manual was dropped down and pulled back from the website, and no further details about any amendments or re-initiation of the manual have been brought out.