Letter in support of NCERT’s teacher-training manual on transgender-inclusive school education

Members of the Indian academic ecosystem rise in support of NCERT's teacher-training manual on transgender-sensitive school education.
NCERT Training
By | Published on Dec 2, 2021

Note: Earlier this year, a teacher-training manual was published by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) that aimed to increase the sensitivity of school teachers towards the needs of transgender, gender non-conforming and gender non-binary students. However, due to online outrage against the manual and subsequent pressure from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), the manual was taken down. The following statement in support of NCERT’s manual, published below in its entirety by the TheLifeofScience.com team, was circulated among various members of the Indian academic ecosystem. The letter has garnered the support of more than 200 individuals.

We support NCERT’s teacher-training manual on transgender-inclusive school education: A Statement by Members of Indian academic ecosystem

The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) had recently put up a teacher-training manual on its website titled Inclusion of Transgender Children in School Education: Concerns and Roadmap. The preparation of this manual was coordinated by Prof. Poonam Agarwal, former head of the department of gender studies, NCERT, and was based on the contributions by gender studies experts such as Prof. Mona Yadav, Prof. Mily Roy Anand, Vikramaditya Sahai and Astha Priyadarshini, experts on education such as Prof. Rajesh and Dr. Manvi Arora, activists and resource people such as Dr. L. Ramakrishnan and Priya Babu, as well as scientist and activist Dr. Bittu Rajaraman-Kondaiah[1].

The manual introduced terminology on the different ways one can identify their gender[2]. It contains the success stories of several transgender, gender non-conforming, or gender non-binary people, and suggestions on how teachers can respond to distress faced by transgender, gender non-conforming or gender non-binary children due to various gendered institutional norms in schools and outside. 

News reports on this teacher-training manual were received with enthusiasm by some, while it also faced backlash by others[3]. The backlash was accompanied by hatred aimed at contributors to the training manual. In addition to this, one person has filed a complaint with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), which has asked NCERT for a response according to media reports. Further, according to the document by NCPCR made public by the website OpIndia, NCPCR has asked NCERT to “take appropriate action in rectifying the anomalies present in the document”, even though what the anomalies are is unclear. 

Following this development, the manual is taken down from the NCERT website. The events leading to the removal of the manual have already received criticism from several activists[4] and medical practitioners from The Association for Transgender Health in India (ATHI) have also issued a statement in solidarity with NCERT’s training manual.

As members of the Indian academic ecosystem, we condemn the pressure tactics used by the NCPCR that forced the NCERT to take down a manual prepared by experts in consultation with several transgender activists and academicians as a response to internet backlash. We also condemn the hateful attacks received by several contributors to this teacher-training manual. We believe that regardless of gender identity every child has the right to life and education enshrined in the Indian constitution. We recognise the need for proactive measures to have inclusive education both at schools as well as higher educational institutions. 

We recognise the need for sensitization of all stakeholders of the school ecosystem (including students, teachers, administrators, non-teaching staff, parents and other stakeholders) towards the needs of transgender and gender non-conforming children. These measures towards sensitization should be guided by opinions from experts and well-thought-out scientific studies. 

We urge the NCERT to retain this manual and we reaffirm our faith in the contributors who are experts on the said issues, some of whom are also trans-identifying individuals. We demand that the NCPCR acknowledge that the withdrawal of this manual violates the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming children to a safe and welcoming school ecosystem. We demand that the NCPCR withdraw their undue suggestions to the NCERT.

References

[1] NCERT Removes Teacher-Training Manual on Transgender-Inclusive School Education After Backlash, The Wire, 10/11/2021.

[2] NCERT releases training material to sensitise teachers, administrators about transgender, gender-nonconforming children, Firstpost, 01/11/2021.

[3] NCERT takes step to help teachers support transgender kids, faces right-wing backlash, The News Minute, 04/11/2021.

[4] NCERT’s teacher training manual on transgender-inclusive education is nuanced and relevant, News9live, 11/11/2021.

List of Signatories

1Sayantan DattaTheLifeofScience.com and Krea University
2Subramanya HHarish-Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad
3Shalin JoseIISER Thiruvananthapuram
4Bijoy MathewIISER Thiruvananthapuram
5Niloopher SalamIndependent
6John George francisIISER tvm
7Mridula KainturaIndependent
8Arnab Priya SahaHarish-Chandra Research Institute
9Anvy KuriakoseIndependent
10Krishnanand MallayyaPostdoc, Cornell University
11Muthusamy RLehigh University
12Sajesh VijayanIISER TVM
13Vivek CyriacIndian Institute of Science
14Sijil JoseIndependent
15anupam a hICTS
16Sanra RIIT Ropar
17Pooja RIIT Ropar
18Aleena Achamma PaulIIT Ropar, Punjab
19Ananthu Krishnan UIndependent
20Sanmay SarkarIIT (BHU) Varanasi
21Krishnanand K NairIndian Institute of Science Education and Research, Thiruvananthapuram
22Awantika MishraIndependent
23KushalIISc
24Vishnu T UIndependent
25Suresh GovindarajanIIT Madras
26Trupti GaikwadIndependent
27Sabyasachi MaulikSaha Institute of Nuclear Physics, HBNI
28Tousik SamuiHarish-Chandra Research Institute
29S.AnushyaManonmaniam sundaranar University, Tirunelveli
30Aneetta JosephIndependent
31Namitha SomanIndependent
32Eube BlossomManonmaniam Sundaranar University Tirunelveli
33DineshManonmaniam sundaranar university Tirunelveli, Tamilnadu
34Praseeda M SIndependent
35Dinakar SIndependent
36Lakshmisree SIndependent
37Ameya PanickerIndependent
38Kapil ManglaRamjas college
39Pritha ChakrabartiKrea University, Sri City
40Ranjitha KumarAzim Premji University
41Madhukrishna K UTU-Dresden, Germany
42Aardra BIndependent
43A ManiIndian Statistical Institute, Kolkata
44Rohan kumarIndependent
45Ira ZibbuIISER Thiruvananthapuram
46JayneIndependent
47Roshini RossMA Sociology student at Ambedkar University Delhi, Students’ Federation of India, Human Library Bangalore
48Abigail Silversmith IrfanSt Joseph’s College (Autonomous), Bangalore
49RachanaIndependent Trans rights activist
50SanikaIndependent
51Achsah MarleneIndependent
52Aiswarya PremarajIndependent
53Samatha MathewCSIR IGIB
54Nirmalya KajuriIACS, Kolkata
55Dr. Prashanth N SInstitute of Public Health Bengaluru
56Arpita Dasyoda press
57NIKITA ARORAUniversity of Oxford
58Jyotika TomarLady Shri Ram College
59Chayanika ShahIndep Gender Studies researcher and Retired Physics Lecturer
60Dharmesh ChaubeyIndependent
61VinushaAzim Premji University
62Nandita JayarajTheLifeofScience.com
63JinoIndependent
64Sharen Achangadanindependent
65Chirag ThakkarPublishing Professional
66Ronak M SoniUniversity of Cambridge
67Sridevi VenkatesanPhD student, University of Toronto
68Ayush GuptaHomi Bhabha Center For Science Education
69Rita D’SouzaNo
70Aditi MurtiIndependent
71Sachin GroverHarish-Chandra Research Institute
72Tashi ChoedupIndependent
73Ananda Shikhara BhatStudent, IISER Pune
74Abhilasha JoshiPostdoctoral Scholar, University of California San Francisco
75S.KrishnaswamyRetired from Madurai Kamaraj University
76Jayaprakash MishraIndian Institute of Technology Hyderabad
77SayaliIndependent
78Shubham IlheIISER Kolkata
79Anindo ChatterjeeIndependent
80Kavya MIndependent
81Arpan KunduIMSc
82Shubha ToleTata Institute of Fundamental Research
83Aravindhan SCharles University, Prague
84Anantu SIISER Kolkata
85Sultan NazirStudent, IISER Pune
86Dr. GEDDAM VENKATA DEEKSHITANDHRA PRADESH ANIMAL HUSBANDRY DEPARTMENT
87Aishwarya ViswamitraMasters student at IISER Mohali
88Lakshmi SreenivasanIndependent
89Pratiti DebUniversity of Chicago
90Jinia GhoshIndian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar
91Shubashree DesikanThe Hindu
92Yadukrishnan T APhD student, Mizoram Central University
93Himani KandhariIndependent
94Bevan StanelyIndian Institute of Science, Bengaluru
95Harita RavalHomi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, TIFR
96Swathilekshmi. SIndependent
97Narmada PIndependent
98Sayali Atul BhatkarIndependent
99Ravi SinghUniversity of Delhi
100Shals MahajanIndependent. Writer.
101Yashika KapoorPostgraduate student, University of Sheffield
102Vishwam SankaranIndependent
103Urmi BhattacheryyaIndependent Journalist
104Rineeta BanerjeeIndependent
105Writuparna DuttaIndependent
106Naven Narayanan VenkatanarayananPhD candidate, University of Minnesota
107Varsha SinghIndian Institute of Science
108Collins AssisiIISER Pune
109Anbazhagan KIndependent
110Prahladh HarshaTIFR
111Siddharth BhandariSimons Institute for the theory of computing
112Aarcha ThadiUniversity of Minnesota, Twin-Cities
113Surendra GhaskadbiIndependent
114Umang BhaskarTIFR, Mumbai
115SusmitaIndependent
116RadhaIndependent
117Shilpi SinghIndependent
118Aparna ShankarTata Institute of Fundamental Research
119Shrinivasan RaghuramanUniversity of Utah
120Priyanka PullaIndependent
121Megh MaratheUniversity of Mumbai, University of California, Irvine
122Aatreyee DharIndependent
123Ashoka University Queer CollectiveAshoka University
124Pranav kumarAzim Premji university
125KamakshiIndependent
126Sameer Abraham ThomasKrea University
127Yukti AroraAshoka University
128Debdutta PaulIndependent
129Sulakshana NandiJan Swasthya Abhiyan Chhattisgarh
130Madhurima NundyFellow, Institute of Chinese Studies, New Delhi
131Sulochana RHBCSE, TIFR Mumbai
132Aprajita SarcarPostdoctoral Researcher, Centre de Sciences Humaines
133Vasundhara GautamIndependent
134RelissaNa
135Dipa SinhaAmbedkar University Delhi
136Reeja NairIndependent
137Bijoya RoyCentre for Women’s Development Studies
138Prajval Shastriastrophysicst, Bengaluru
139Sharachchandra LeleATREE
140Ponniah RajamanickamAIPSN
141SangeetaIndependent
142Jayasree SubramanianSRM University AP
143Ravinder BanyalIIA Bangalore
144Girish SharmaIIT Mandi
145Proteep MallikAzim Premji University
146Jayashree RamadasIndependent
147Gautam I MenonAshoka University
148Swayamtrupta PandaCenter for Theoretical Physics, Polish Academy of Sciences
149Rajani KSResearch scholar, Gulbarga University
150Seemin RubabNIT Srinagar
151S. KrishnaswamyRetired from Madurai Kamaraj University
152Sarah IqbalIndependent
153Arun Varma ThampanSt. Joseph’s College (Autonomous)
154Dibyendu NandiScientist
155Niruj Mohan RamanujamIndian Institute of Astrophysics (signing in personal capacity)
156Dr. Mohan RaoIndependent
157Kaushiki SanyalIndependent
158Palahalli Vishwanathindependent
159SavithriNGO
160V MadhurimaScientist, Tamil Nadu
161N D Hari DassIMSc Retd
162Neha DesaiIndian Institute of Education
163Akash GaikwadIndependent
164Aashutosha LeleIndependent
165Abha Dev HabibDemocratic Teachers’ Front
166Narender ThakurBhim Rao Ambedkar College, University of Delhii
167Dr Kiran BhairannavarDept of Geography, Delhi School of Economics
168Ayesha KidwaiJawaharlal Nehru University
169Amitava chakrabortyUniversity of Delhi
170Ram SrinivasanIndependent
171Anupama BoseMovieSaints
172Kajal Kiran SinghIndependent
173Nandita NarainSt. Stephen’s College, Delhi University
174Ravishankar BTURSC
175Enakshi NandiIndependent
176Anindita BhadraIISER Kolkata
177Ayan BanerjeeIISER Kolkata
178Krishna SenguptaRetired from University of Delhi.
179srinidhiindependent
180Pravabati ChingangbamIIA
181Debjani senguptaIPC, DU
182Rahul SiddharthanIMSc Chennai
183Sabyasachi ChatterjeeRetired, Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru.
184Savithri SinghIndependent
185Yangchen RoyJNU
186Deepti TrivediNCBS
187Deepika JoshiJan Swasthya Abhiyan, Chhattisgarh
188Vyom SharmaIIT delhi
189Ankita PrasadIIT Delhi PhD scholar
190Pranab BagarttiIITD
191Shainal VermaIITD PhD candidate
192Ktien HimaIndependent
193Sanket SainiIndependent
194Rajeswari RainaIndependent
195Rekha AwasthiJanwadi lekhak sangh
196Bratati PandeDemocratic Teachers Front, D. U
197Roopkatha BhattacharyaIICB
198Arnab BhattacharyaTata Institute of Fundamental Research
199Tara ThakurNALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad
200RachanaIndependent
201Deepa PadmanabanFreelance journalist
202Meena GuptaRetired, University of Delhi

About the author(s)
TLoS Team
TLoS Team

thelifeofscience.com or TLoS is a feminist science media collective based in India

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