How can the school curriculum help remove the stigma associated with the LGBTQ community?

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Schools can be thought of as miniature societies, where children from different cultural and societal backgrounds meet and form an association. A school is a place where individuals settle primarily as part of a larger community, comprising many other unrelated people. This idea of ​​identifying oneself as different from another must be carefully scrutinized and the parameters for highlighting these differences must be modified, especially in terms of gender and sexual orientation.

After the family, the school is an agency which instills values, preliminary knowledge and ideas in the mind of a child. Hence, it plays an important role in structuring a person’s state of mind and rebuilding the main center of knowledge generation can help reform an individual’s outlook and ideas.

According to a research forum, most young people in school today are well equipped with the terms “transgender,” “gay,” “lesbian,” primarily because issues concerning these communities are widely propagated or projected. through movies, songs, storybooks, social media or other popular platforms. For this reason, the stereotypical action of keeping them away from such terms or concepts seems absurd.

Researchers are of the opinion that useful information should be taken into account within them so that they do not remain uninformed or misinformed. Kevin Jennings, a famous American educator, points out that most school history books do not include the historical struggles of LGBTQ + people. Therefore, the story taught to students is half truths. He suggests that the social studies curriculum must take into account concerns such as students today are invariably associated with gender issues and terms related to sexualities and gender identities. He also advocates the inculcation of research-oriented skills in classroom teaching, as this type of learning could help students develop their critical thinking, analytical and reasoning skills.

Many times it is observed that students often use “gay”, “lesbian” as terms to make fun of others. Unfortunately, experts say, teachers seem to ignore these sensitive issues, and such ignorance makes the child feel that such actions are not offensive.

Need for gender awareness

Another educator, Kevin C. Franck, said schools should run monthly or annual gender awareness workshops for staff and students. In some cases, parents of students should also be invited to such seminars. Additionally, teachers need to eliminate inappropriate stigma associated with gender identities and should stop encouraging any shyness or hesitation while discussing anything LGBTQ-like.

While they claim to not notice the hateful anti-gay slurs used by students, they should actively address these issues, counsel them, and make them understand why using such foul language is offensive. It helps to give confidence to students who have a same-sex identity or other sexual orientation to say that they are not “different” or “weird” or that their choices are not “unnatural”.

Inclusion of gender in the curriculum

Experts say there are some excellent elementary story books for children with the main protagonists being LGBTQ characters; the elementary school curriculum may include them. More LGBTQ teachers need to be recruited to share their life experiences with students and influence them to belong to such communities.

In civic education, children should be informed about the rights of the LGBTQ + community. In history, teachers should teach how it is nothing against its culture, as mentioned in several old books.

There is also an equal need for the strict adoption of policies that implement them. In some developing countries, certain laws oblige school administrators to seriously combat bullying and discrimination in schools.

Earlier this year, the Madras High Court officially suggested measures that include:

In schools, parent-teacher meetings should include raising awareness and educating parents on issues of the LGBTQIA + community and gender nonconforming students to ensure family support for children.

Policies and resources should support students belonging to the LGBTQIA + community in all areas of their academic life. For this, educational spaces should include gender-neutral washrooms, change the gender name on academic records for individuals and include “transgender”, naming LGBTQIA + inclusive, for staff and students.

In addition, appropriate government bodies should take adequate measures to implement measures relating to transgender people, as stipulated by Chapter VI of the Transgender People (Protection of Rights) Act 2019 and Rule 10 of the Rules of Procedure. 2020 on transgender people (protection of rights).

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