Panaji: In order to encourage the social inclusion of transgender persons right at the school level, the state government has issued a circular to the heads of all government-recognised elementary schools, directing them to create a transgender-friendly atmosphere in the educational institutions.
The circular issued by the Directorate of Education (DoE), is as per the guidelines of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, and directs establishment of an anti-discrimination cell in these schools to monitor any form of discrimination against the transgender community.
“On the line of strict anti-ragging cell, there should be zero tolerance towards any incidence of the discrimination or complaint,” it notes.
Supporting education to the school staff as regards gender identity, the circular directs, “If possible, designate gender-neutral restrooms and locker rooms; toilet facilities that everyone may use, irrespective of gender identity or gender expression.”
It also asks the schools to search out gender support groups serving organisations, in the areas near the schools, and further make sure that these groups and organisations are included in the resource lists of the said educational institutions.
The circular forms a part of government’s integrated school education scheme – Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan – which has been formed by merging three schemes namely Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan, and Teacher Education.
The guidelines of the Ministry of Human Resource Development follows the path-breaking 2014 NALSA judgment of the Supreme Court, which conferred equal fundamental and civil rights on transgender persons.
The circular also gives direction to schools about admission to be given in schools and vocational education, irrespective of gender identity to all those desirous of education.
“India is facing acute shortage of skilled manpower in different sectors,” the circular states, observing that there is a need for sensitisation as regards vocational education and training to teachers and other school members.
At the secondary and higher secondary levels, vocational training should be provided to the transgenders that prepare them for job, it notes.
“Teachers must be sensitised regarding the issues related to transgender, their life and culture, psycho-social and emotional condition and cognitive aspects, co-operation among all the children and relationship of transgender and other students, and so on,” the circular states, pointing out, “Teachers could be sensitised regarding content delivery, which may be specially related to transgender children.”
“There is need to prepare an environment where transgender children feel secure,” the circular maintains, adding that teacher and community people can play an important role in inclusion.
Meanwhile, a DoE official informed that Goan schools do have some transgender students studying in them.
“As per the direction of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, schools across the country need to help in creation of a national database of transgender children, thus making sure that they are not discriminated in any way,” the DoE official mentioned.