To The Teachers Who’ve Made Me Feel Unsafe

Classrooms are supposed to be safe spaces that allow everyone to learn, socialize and innovate. Let me tell you that none of that applies to most classrooms.

The start of another academic year is just around the corner and I’m not in the least bit thrilled. Not because of the impractical examinations or the idiotic rivalries fuelled by sleep deprivation, but because of the endless classroom discrimination which never seems to come to light.

The adults I know, who are far from the definition of cishet, have faced the same classroom discrimination. The real dirt though, just gets pushed under the rug. The only time I’ve heard classroom discrimination in a conversation is when the successful adults call it their ‘gay awakening’, i.e. the experience that made them stop caring and start working on their own lives as the best and most real versions of themselves. While that is cute, the twisted effect that it has is simply forgotten.

Classrooms are supposed to be safe spaces that allow everyone to learn, socialize and innovate. Let me tell you that none of that applies to most classrooms. Speaking from my experience, racial slurs, sexist comments and other forms of bigotry is passed off as mere childish humour. The irony is that we may study stories about war and its impact or poems about the ‘cold within’ but we fail to recognize the hatred we breed in young flexible minds about people different from them in either skin, blood, sexuality or brain.

As somebody who is out to most of their grade and two teachers, I must say it took time. On some days I feel fearless and proud but on others I am uncomfortable and insecure. The worst moment was the time a Biology teacher felt the need to pass a comment on a completely healthy platonic relationship between two boys. This was little after Section 377 had been lifted, and she just had to mention it and say, “Control yourselves. You do realize your parents want a bahu, right?” While the rest of the class was amused, I flinched. When she dared to continue speaking about how only a boy ends up with a girl, I raised my voice and said, ‘Not necessary.’ Those two words from me apparently pissed her off a little too much. How do I know this? Because towards the end of last year, when an English teacher recommended me for the position of Editor, said Biology teacher stated that I had an ‘attitude problem’ and I ‘back-answered’ her. This hot tea was spilled by the English teacher because she could not believe that I would do something so out of character. I then reflected upon the various incidents where she misunderstood me calling her out, as misbehaviour. Despite her opposition, I did make it to Editor with some work here and there. I too, had a small success but it does not come even close to satisfying me.

That incident was just one out of the myriad where there is no change and the scenario is pure filth. None of us should have to do things in order to be simply acknowledged as normal human beings. In my situation, I just pretended to be your totally heterosexual ally and yet I faced some truly horrifying garbage. I just wish educators keep in mind that LGBTQ+ students exist, that not everybody can accommodate their toxic thoughts, that a young child or an adolescent doesn’t need their intolerance to mould their personality. I sincerely hope that not a single person experiences a day in their life where they have to question their own abilities because of that one joke or that one remark from somebody they had learn to trust.

Yours queerly,
A student who is tired of the discrimination which stays in the closet

About the author

Ritu

-14 -they/them -local poet -mathematics enthusiast -shorty -lowkey literary critic
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