HC shocked over NCERT having pulled down transgender manual from its website

Says no one can be allowed to arm twist a State run council

Published - December 08, 2021 05:45 pm IST

The Madras High Court on Tuesday expressed shock over National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) having been forced to pull down from its website a teaching manual aimed at sensitising school teachers and administrators towards addressing the needs of transgender children and those with binary identities.

Justice N. Anand Venkatesh, who had taken up a case to provide recognition to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual and such other (LGBTQIA+) community in all walks of life, said NCERT had taken a very important step by coming up with a training manual for teachers who act as a bridge between children and parents.

Sensitisation has to start from schools and home, and without family support, children belonging to this community would never be able to get support elsewhere. Ignorant parents could be sensitised only by the teachers. Therefore, NCERT had rightly brought out the material, after a thorough research by a committee, to sensitise teachers on this issue.

“However, in a very shocking development, the material that was posted on the official website of NCERT was taken down within hours of its publication, owing to pressure that was exerted from some quarters.” the judge wrote in his interim order and referred to media reports about the persons responsible for developing the material having been transferred out.

“This court is unable to understand the need for such a knee jerk reaction within hours of the material getting uploaded on the website. If someone really had a grievance, the same should have been addressed in a proper manner through proper consultation and meetings and no one can be allowed to arm twist a State-run council,” the judge said.

He went on to state: “It is quite unfortunate that such an important development was nipped in the bud. This development only reminds this court that a continuous follow-up is required to bring in changes in the prevailing education system. This court hopes that the NCERT understands the concern expressed by this court.”

After directing the council to submit its report on the issue before the court on December 23, the judge said: “In a democratic country like India, discussions and consultations must form the basis for any policy and pressure tactics cannot be allowed to shut down any policy, and if such an attitude is encouraged, it poses a greater danger to the fabric of this nation.”

The judge also took note that the National Medical Commission had complied with the earlier court order and issued an advisory on October 13 rectifying the unscientific notions about LGBTQIA+ community in MBBS curriculum. Appreciating the NMC for having done so, he expected it to act upon further suggestions made by advocate S. Manuraj and others.

The court also recorded its appreciation for the State government for having decided to amend the Tamil Nadu Police Subordinate Service Rules and provide for disciplinary action against police personnel who harass people belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community and those who work for the welfare of the community.

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