It also wants information on transgender persons to be included in the curriculum, have separate toilets in schools, and sensitise teachers.
New Delhi: In order to increase the social inclusion of transgender persons, the government is planning to start right at the school level. The ministry of human resource development is set to ask schools across the country to create a national database of transgender children, and make sure they are not discriminated against.
It wants information on transgender persons to be included in the curriculum, have separate toilets for trans children in schools, involve NGOs and parents to evolve a plan of inclusion, and sensitise teachers for the purpose.
This is part of government’s integrated school education scheme, Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, which has been formed by merging three schemes – Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan, and Teacher Education.
The need for a plan
“There is an urgent need to address the education of transgender children, as they face stigma and discrimination. They face conflicting pressures to conform to gender normative behavior, and the expectations of the society which they are unable to do so,” the policy document, accessed by ThePrint, reads.
There is no data available on transgender children at the national level so far. Official government data under the comprehensive schools database UDISE has only ‘male’ and ‘female’ categorisation for students.
“There is a need to create and develop a reliable national database on transgender children,” the policy document adds.
What the govt proposes to do
As a part of this inclusion plan, the government wants schools to create a safe, supportive environment, which does not violate the constitutional rights of trans children. The ministry wants schools to develop a plan with transgender students and their parents regarding the use of their names, access to rest rooms, and other spaces corresponding to their gender identity.
“The curriculum and textbooks must address transgender issues and concerns as well,” the policy document says, adding that “teachers need to be sensitised about their issues through continuous teacher training programmes”.
It has also been suggested that schools work actively with civil society groups that have substantial experience of working with trans children.
“A process for empanelling such groups for resource support would be a good starting point. However, more active engagement of the education department as well as National Council for Protection of Child Rights will be necessary to ensure that these children do not remain excluded,” the policy document says.
Activists working for transgender persons’ rights, however, are not entirely convinced.
Anjali Gopalan of Naz foundation said: “It is going to be very difficult for schools to get a database of trans children. Most of the children’s parents do not even want them to reveal their identity, unless the child is seemingly trans. It is a difficult task.
“It will just be one of those policies in the air, unless the government implements it sensitively. Trans children are violated most of the times, and if there are separate toilets for them in schools, there is a possibility that they will be discriminated against even more.”
India recognised ‘the third gender’ or transgender only in 2014, after a Supreme Court ruling.