NCERT drops transgender inclusion manual from website after NCPCR rap

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The National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has removed a teachers’ training manual on integration of transgender or gender non-conforming students in schools from its website days after the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) sought rectification of “anomalies” in the document.

The manual, Inclusion of Transgender Children in School Education: Concerns and Roadmap, was recently put up by NCERT on its website to educate and sensitise teachers towards the practices and strategies to make schools sensitive and inclusive for transgender and gender non-conforming students.

It recommended the provision of gender-neutral toilets and uniforms, discontinuing practices that segregate children for various school activities based on their gender, inviting members of transgender community to speak on campus, among others.

However, on November 2, NCPCR wrote to NCERT saying it had received complaints against the content of the teaching manual and took suo moto cognisance in the matter in relation to deprivation and violation of child rights.

“The text of the manual suggests gender-neutral infrastructure for children that does not commensurate with their gender realities and basic needs. Also, the idea of creating and removing binaries shall deny them equal rights of children of diverse biological needs. Second, this approach will expose children to unnecessary psychological trauma due to contradictory environments at home and in school,” NCPCR chairperson Priyank Kanoongo said in the letter to NCERT.

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“It is also highlighted in the manual (chapter 3) that teachers are suggested to discuss with students about puberty blockers and its availability for adolescents. Further, the background and qualifications of the members of the drafting committee was not verified,” the NCPCR letter added while commenting on the manual.

NCPCR asked NCERT to “take appropriate action to rectifying the anomalies in the document”, and added that “antecedents of the members of the drafting committee may be verified”.

On Friday, the manual was not available on the NCERT’s website and no immediate comment was provided by the commission. However, a senior official at the ministry of education, requesting anonymity, said, “The NCERT has informed the ministry that the document was still under process and it was inadvertently uploaded on the website. The council will provide the required response to the NCPCR. The manual has been drafted by the department of gender studies at the NCERT with all due considerations.”

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