Inclusivity in schools

Inclusivity in schools

Representative image. iStock

Our country and the judicial system have made huge progress in terms of paving way for the support of the LGBTQIA+ community. However, we are faced every day with stories of struggle faced by people from this community. Although we see efforts in support of the community through media, advertisements, and social media pages, there is still an evident gap that needs to be addressed.

A child’s mind is like wet clay and building compassion is much easier when compared to a grown adult. There have also been several debates around making inclusivity a part of discussions in schools. Most students nowadays want to do their bit to make everyone feel welcomed. There’s room for everyone, a book authored by students in Bengaluru and Chennai about community, is a sincere effort in that direction.

This is a handbook co-authored by five students between the ages of 14 to 18 years. The book consists of four chapters — an introductory chapter that explains the problematic concept of the ‘other’, several stories of pride, what the LGBTQIA+ community wished you knew, and a chapter on introspection.

It is necessary that children know how the LGBTQIA+ community was ostracised for decades. Understanding social history and past dynamics is the only way children will understand the implications of gender and sexuality in our daily lives. The core idea of the book is to establish that the LGBTQIA+ community is not the 'other' but a part of an individual’s identity.

While curating 'Stories of pride' — the second chapter of the book — students reached out to people who were willing to share their stories. Upon request, their identities have been kept private, but the emotions and struggles are authentic and touching and would help children relate to people from the community. 

Goal of an educator

Rigid ideas on gender and sexuality that are imbibed by a child in their early years create individuals who hold bias. Such adults may bully others who are not similar.

Progressive educators and schools must consider it their responsibility to build a generation of children who display greater awareness, empathy, and inclusivity towards their peers from different sections of society, including the LGBTQIA+ community. Every child — regardless of where they belong on the spectrum — deserves opportunities to learn, explore and thrive.

It is important to teach students and thereby the world that we need to lend our voices, not our judgements. We should remember that every hue of the rainbow is just as special in its individuality as it is in a collective. 

(The writer is the co-founder of a liberal arts school)

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