Recently, the Department of Gender Studies at the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) released a 115-paged set of guidelines titled “Inclusion of Transgender Children in School Education: Concerns and Roadmap.”
The overview of this document clearly stated that this “training material is designed for the sensitization of teachers and teacher-educators regarding aspects of gender diversity keeping gender-nonconforming and transgender children at centre stage.”
The NCERT team must have felt the need — and I couldn’t agree more — to create a concrete & inclusive template for education that would help gender-nonconforming and trans children identify their schools as a “safe space.” And above all, as the primary goal of an educational institute is to “provide them an appropriate learning environment,” the guidelines specifically targeted “teachers’ sensitivity” to reach the desired goal.
However, within days of its rollout, trolls and right-wing sympathizers created a targeted campaign against the guidelines and the team that conceptualized it. In particular, they spewed venom against one of the external consultants of the drafting committee — Vqueeram Sahai.
One troll, whose handle is @YearOfTheKraken, was particularly committed to the smear campaign against Vqueeram. @YearOfTheKraken, who, of course, is enjoying the immunity by being a nameless and faceless figure on social media, is using “shame” and “respectability” politics to vilify and question Vqueeram’s work by posting pictures from the latter’s Instagram account. But it’s heartening to see how several people on social media, especially @DalitCamera and actor & activist Jyotsna Siddharth, are speaking out against the transphobic attack on Vqueeram.
After trolling on Twitter, the news portal OpIndia started posting consistently about these guidelines, referring to it as the “new woke guidelines by NCERT”, and writing maliciously about the external team members in its piece titled “From profs to Woke activists: Who were behind the NCERT gender training manual for teachers? Read here.”
Though the RW-hatred toolkit is so predictable that it gets boring to witness their line of attack, the reality is that their campaigns against any inclusive activity are always a success. Taking cognisance of the matter, a former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) pracharak Vinay Joshi filed a complaint against the NCERT guidelines with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
Joshi alleged that the document is a “criminal conspiracy…to psychologically traumatise school students under the name of gender sensitisation”. In almost no time, the NCPCR chief Priyank Kanoongo issued a letter to the NCERT Director, seeking a response within 7 days to “address” the concerns in the complaint that he has received, Times of India reported.
Among his worries and concerns regarding teachers discussing “puberty blockers” with students, Kanoongo has also observed that “the background and qualification of the members of the drafting committee was [sic] not verified.” Though no official response has been released by the NCERT, the guidelines can no longer be accessed on its website.