Madras HC Calls NCERT Removal Of Transgender-Inclusive Manual ‘Knee-Jerk Reaction’

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The Madras High Court expressed shock after the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT’s Manual)  removed from its website a teaching manual aimed at sensitising school teachers and administrators to the needs of transgender children and those with binary identities.

The report is intended to serve as a training manual for teachers. Gender identity and fluidity, among other concepts, are discussed in depth in the report. However, the report was taken down from the website just hours after it was published due to backlash on social media and elsewhere.

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NCERT Transgender Manual:

NCERT’s manual hoped to bridge the gap between children of different genders and allow them to be accepted in the classroom environment. Justice N. Anand Venkatesh, who took up a case to provide identity to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, and Other (LGBTQIA+) communities in different walks of life, expressed concerned over NCERT’s removal of the manual.

Only 19 transgender students were registered for Class 10 exams in 2020, according to a report, and only six for the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) Class 12 exams. Students who identified as transgender had a particularly high pass rate. This showed that the low number of transgender students in schools is due to social victimisation rather than a lack of intelligence or motivation to learn.

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Judge Anand Venkatesh, of Madras High Court, issued guidelines for the safety of the LGBTQIA+ community and the prevention of harassment by authorities. Reforms have been proposed in this reference, such as requiring police and government officials to attend awareness training and revoking the licenses of medical practitioners who claim to “cure” homosexuality.

The NCERT’s strategy was lauded by the court, but the report’s abrupt removal was deemed unjustified.  As a result, this Court anticipates that NCERT will provide a status report on this issue before the next date of hearing. However, Justice has asked NCERT to provide the report by December 23.