Gender Neutral Uniforms, Safe Washrooms: NCERT’s Manual for Schools on Transgender Students

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Gender-neutral uniforms in schools, transgender inclusive curriculum, safe washroom facilities and measures to prevent gender-based violence are among the recommendations made by a new NCERT manual to smoothly integrate the third gender into the formal schooling process. The draft manual, titled “Integrating Transgender Concerns in the Schooling Process”, has been prepared by a new 16-member committee convened by Jyotsna Tiwari, Head of the Department of Gender Studies, NCERT.

“Some students, especially from sixth grade onwards, have a preference for clothing, particularly the school uniform. They do not feel comfortable in any particular dress. Schools can introduce gender neutral uniforms that are comfortable, climate appropriate, fit and do not conform to any particular gender. The panel noted that these uniforms can be designed by design institutes.

“Many schools have introduced pants and shirts that can be tailored to any gender and are comfortable for all school activities. Reinforcement of gender binaries in school structures, in terms of uniforms, use of toilets, sports and extra-curricular Participation in activities, bullying and harassment just for expressing themselves contrary to social norms are some of the obvious concerns raised by transgender persons when their education is hampered,” it added.

The panel has suggested that teachers may identify space and scope for integrating gender, especially transgender concerns, into their pedagogy and textbook content wherever they perceive a gap in existing textbooks.

“Such practices should be shared with fellow teachers (subject or stage specific) to collectively develop best practices that are context specific. Issues of masculinity, equality and empowerment should be carefully addressed across subjects in our textbooks. Selection should be addressed through other pedagogy like role play, debate, creative writing, development of short films etc.

“If students are seen as gender non-conforming or come out as transgender at this stage, help them build healthy, supportive alliances with peers and generate a gender sensitive school environment so that such students feel supported. Do it. Health educators should be gender sensitive and use gender inclusive practices while educating on puberty, sex education and health education,” the manual read.

Noting that due to society’s marked intolerance towards gender non-conformity, those who do not conform to gender norms are more likely to be victims of violence than other gender-conforming students at a young age, the panel noted that it They can be applied in different contexts. Through various social relations.

“These conversations may take place with family members, schoolmates or society at large. These may include experiences of rejection within the process of identifying their gender identity or the choices they have made to confirm their gender identity. These are everyday but serious incidents of violence experienced by transgender persons.

“It needs to be noted that ‘homophobic and transphobic’ violence is associated with poorer than average physical and mental health. Adverse effects on young people’s mental and psychological health include: anxiety, fear, stress, lack of confidence, low self-esteem Increased risk of loneliness, self-harm, depression and suicide.

Elaborating on the need for “transgender inclusive” environments in schools, the manual noted that behaviors and expressions that exist within the gender binary are viewed as “normal” and considered acceptable.

“In the case of children who do not conform to such dual roles, expressions, behaviors usually associated with their assigned gender and thus gender; They are made to feel ‘abnormal’. In addition, these expressions, behaviour, mannerisms etc. attract unwanted attention from others as they are not seen as ‘normal’ and lead to bullying or harassment, making it difficult for transgender children to access their education It becomes even more difficult to continue.

“It affects the childhood and adolescence of many transgender children due to incidents in school, as these cases mostly go unreported due to the stigma attached. This often results in discontinuance of their formal education or a drastic decline in their academic performance. Causes.

The panel also emphasized that when introducing transgender inclusive curriculum, it is best to do so collectively as a school community, led by administrative and school leaders. It is also recommended that the decision in this regard be communicated through gender specific professional development for teachers and community members at the beginning of each academic year.

A previous manual titled “Inclusion of Transgender Children in School Education: Concerns and Roadmap” was dropped after concerns were raised by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).

While the previous report largely addressed the needs of all categories of gender non-conforming children, the latest report states that although there is recognition of people with diverse sexuality and sexual orientation, including LGBTQ communities, “the current module Specifically focusing on this. Transgender person by birth”.

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