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Gender-positive learning spaces

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This topic of “Gender-positive learning spaces” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.

Context: The recent announcement by NALSAR University, Hyderabad

  • The announcement was about the creation of a gender-neutral space in its hostel.
  • The announcement also includes gender-neutral washrooms and a proposed policy on inclusive education for gender and sexual minorities.

What things to be mindful of along with the proposition for an inclusive space?

  • Even as inclusive spaces are created, we should be mindful of the intersectionality within queer communities.

The legal right of transgender men and women: The presence of such facilities should not curtail the legal right of transgender men and women to get accommodation in men’s or women’s hostels, just like the presence of gender-neutral toilets should not be used to stop transgender men and women from using men’s or women’s washrooms.

Accessibility: The inclusive spaces should be accessible to persons with disabilities.

Special attention to queerphobic attacks:

  • While such facilities give much-needed visibility to queer people and their issues, it can also expose the community to queerphobic attacks.
  • There must be special attention to the security of queer people.

The importance of changing mindsets:

  • While infrastructure is essential for creating safe and inclusive places, we cannot underplay the importance of changing mindsets.
  • There is a need for the sensitisation of students, teachers, and staff in all educational institutions, from primary schools to universities, on understanding and accepting queer and transgender folks.

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The efforts that India already took towards a gender-neutral space

Transgender Persons Act:

  • India has taken a step in the right direction by enacting the Transgender Persons Act, which speaks of a trans-inclusive education system wherein transgender students learn with other students without fear of discrimination, neglect, or harassment.

The National Education Policy 2020:

  • The National Education Policy 2020 speaks about providing equitable and quality education to transgender students.

Way forward

The National Education Policy 2020:

  • While it includes a progressive vision, it misses out on students from other queer identities. Such an omission is not just dangerous but can also be fatal.

Queerphobic curricula:

  • Creating safe educational spaces also demands that we change queerphobic curricula.

Conclusion

  • The step taken by NALSAR should nudge other educational institutes to consult stakeholders, especially queer-identifying students and staff, to undertake holistic changes for creating queer-affirmative campuses.
  • In 2022, we owe this to our sexual and gender minorities.

Practice Question for Mains

  1. Infrastructure, policies, and curricula need a thorough revision for creating not just gender-neutral but gender-positive learning spaces. Discuss. (250 Words, 250 Words)
Referred Sources

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