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Dr. Sridhar Srivastava, NCERT chairperson
Priyank Kanoongo, NCPCR Chairperson
Imagine a world where your gender did not decide what you could wear, where you could go and whom you could talk to. Imagine having teachers in schools who took the time to understand who you are as a person and did not shame you for who you wanted to be.
Whether it is through the curriculum or through the way teachers treat their students, schools often end up reinforcing patriarchal norms of the gender binary. In the most innocuous ways, they indoctrinate young minds with what is the right way to ‘be’, decided of course by their gender. Schools teach students about how boys and girls should ‘behave’ and in this distinction, there is no space for students who do not fall within this binary.
While the NCERT curriculum does have chapters on gender stereotypes and marginalisation in their middle school textbooks, trans and non-binary students are still nowhere to be seen in the discussion on students’ safety and well-being. To rectify this, the NCERT introduced a manual called the "Inclusion of Transgender Children in School Education: Concerns and Roadmap" that sought to act as a training manual for teachers on how they can make sure that the classroom is a habitable space for trans and non-binary students. According to the Hindustan Times, “it recommended the provision of gender-neutral toilets and uniforms, discontinuing practices that segregate children for various school activities based on their gender, inviting members of the transgender community to speak on campus, among others.” However, within 7 days of its publication, the NCERT has pulled the manual down from its website.
How did this start?
This came to light when in early November, a group of troll accounts targeted a trans activist on the advisory board for the manual, questioning their sexuality and “morality” and were backed by other far-right social media accounts who retweeted and amplified trolling of the activist. Within 7 days of putting it up, the NCERT decided to take the manual down from its website. What’s more, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) stepped in, not to correct the situation, but to worsen it by writing to the NCERT and asking them to “take appropriate action rectifying (sic) the anomalies in the document” and that “antecedents of the members of the drafting committee may be verified.” This was with reference to the manual asking teachers to discuss puberty blockers and their availability to adolescents.
Two institutions that are supposed to enable quality education and protect the rights of children have failed in their duty by bowing to the pressure of anonymous troll accounts.
Public response and our demands
There has been massive public mobilisation against this move by the NCERT. From students to parents to activists, people are demanding that the NCERT and NCPCR take proper steps towards rectifying their actions.
We stand in solidarity with all of the people protesting against the NCERT and NCPCR’s move and with them, we demand that the:
NCERT put up the manual on their website again
NCPCR make an official statement supporting NCERT’s manual and committing to upholding the rights of ALL children
Schools are supposed to be spaces where students can learn about themselves and the world. What was a step towards the actual inclusion of trans and non-binary students in the schooling system was sacrificed for the comfort of groups that sought to preserve the status quo and reinforce the gender binary. We demand better, sign the petition now!
The Quint: 'Shaming By Teachers is the Norm': How NCERT's Manual Could Help LGBTQ+ Kid
Deccan Herald: Dear NCERT, please stand up for transgender children
News 18: Parents Start Online Petition to Reinstate NCERT's Manual on Transgender, Non-Binary Inclusion in Schools
Hindustan Times: NCERT drops transgender inclusion manual from website after NCPCR rap
Thank you for advocating for the inclusion of trans and non-binary students in schools. We need NCERT to hear our demands loud and clear to put the manual back up on the website. Amplify this petition with your friends and family now!
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