THE Madras High Court has slammed the NCERT’s decision to remove a manual titled ‘Inclusion of Transgender Children in School Education: Concerns and Roadmap’ from its website following backlash from certain sections of society.
The manual was aimed at equipping teachers, parents, and other stakeholders to be more considerate and create a more inclusive environment for transgender and gender non-conforming students in classrooms.
Within hours of its publication, the manual and its contributors were attacked on social media, with many questioning not only the qualifications of the team which authored it, but also the very basis of the manual, terming its recommendations as a “conspiracy to traumatise children”. Also read: Concern over NCERT’s withdrawing teacher training manual on the inclusion of transgender students from its website
In a hearing assessing the status of implementation of various reforms aimed at addressing the systemic violence endured by LGBTQI+ persons in society, Justice N. Anand Venkatesh questioned the decision of the NCERT to revoke its manual. The manual was drafted in pursuance of an order passed by the High Court in a previous hearing, after which the NCERT came up with an action plan to first sensitise teachers in an endeavour to prepare them to create safe spaces for transgender and gender non-conforming students. The original order in June this year had required that certain other issues also be given immediate attention, including prison reform, changes in the syllabus of medical schools, and sensitization of judges in Tamil Nadu to the needs and unique issues faced by the community. Subsequent hearings have involved the submission of compliance reports by the relevant authorities.
The original order in June this year had required that certain other issues also be given immediate attention, including prison reform, changes in the syllabus of medical schools, and sensitization of judges in Tamil Nadu to the needs and unique issues faced by the community.
Terming the manual as an important and vital step in supporting LGBTQI+ children, the Madras High Court expressed its shock that the material was taken down from the website and that members of the team were transferred to other departments.
“This Court is unable to understand the need for such a knee jerk reaction within hours of the material getting uploaded on the website. If someone really had a grievance, the same should have been addressed in a proper manner through proper consultation and meetings, and no one can be allowed to arm twist a State-run council into forcibly withdrawing a material that came out after a long study by a committeeIt is quite unfortunate that such an important development was nipped in the bud,” the Court said. Also read: Madras HC issues directions for protection of LGBTQIA+ community
The Court observed that in a democratic country like India, discussions and consultations must form the basis of any policy, and that such an important development should not be side-tracked by the opposition and pressure tactics of a handful of persons. It further directed that the NCERT submit a status report before the next hearing.