[Editorial] Gender-positive learning spaces

Quick revision mind map

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.

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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