Inclusive education beyond rhetoric – Times of India

The National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR) in Hyderabad has taken the initiative to introduce and implement a draft policy on inclusive education for gender and sexual minorities. The institution, set to become India’s first fully gender-neutral educational institution, has drawn inspiration from Supreme Court rulings over the years, the Transgender Act enacted by the Modi government , UGC circulars and NEP 2020, with the aim of creating a more favorable and gender-sensitive environment. -inclusive campus.


Reasons to act


“Our inspiration comes from the NALSA Supreme Court ruling in 2014 where the Apex Court recognized the existence of gender identity beyond the binary and upheld the principle of self-identification. Subsequently, in 2018 , the Supreme Court decriminalized homosexuality (Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code) and declared sexual orientation a prohibited ground of discrimination under Section 15 of the Constitution. protection of privacy in 2017, the Supreme Court declared sexual orientation to be at the heart of the fundamental rights of articles 14, 15 and 21, the UGC also proposed circulars emphasizing inclusive spaces while that the Government of India through Parliament passed a Transgender Rights Protection Act, which resulted in our recent decision Even NEP 2020 says there should be full equity and inclusion in education. are the pillars of our bes far from bringing inclusiveness to campus,” says NALSAR Vice Chancellor Faizan Mustafa, who was recently listed for Forbes for his contributions to legal research.


Participatory system

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He further adds, “We have a transparent and participatory regulatory process where students are treated as primary stakeholders in the administrative process, whether it is for scholarships, hostel rules, drafting of the draft trans policy which has been implemented and is currently open for suggestions. So far, we’ve designated the ground floor of the Girls’ Hostel-6 as a gender-neutral space with rooms reserved for students who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community. The toilets on the ground floor of the university block have also been redesigned as gender-neutral toilets. Soon we will formalize the policy and submit it to the statutory bodies for further approval. »

Major reforms


In line with recent campus inclusive measures, transgender students are free to self-identify. “We will not go by their aadhar certificates. Even greetings like “Sir” and “Miss” have already been removed from Nalsar diplomas and certificates. We also do not request medical interventions and we no longer believe in assigned gender identities. As part of the scholarships, transgender students will receive tuition reductions through reasonable accommodations. A Gender and Sexual Minority Officer will be appointed to address grievances from gender and sexual minorities on campus,” Mustafa adds.

It is also planned to introduce variable credit courses on sexual orientation and gender minorities for which experts will be invited to teach these subjects. “Our goal is to protect the dignity and privacy of every student, to ensure that learning is joyful and that there is no discrimination against transgender people and sexual minorities on the campus,” he added.

Aqsa Shaikh, Associate Professor of Community Medicine, Jamia Hamdard, Delhi, believes these are welcome steps and hopes the institute will not stop there. “Ongoing engagement with the community and with transgender students is necessary to make educational settings truly inclusive.”

While noting that there are very few transgender students pursuing law studies at present, Aqsa says, “A transgender person becoming a lawyer and a judge is news. Indeed, some educational institutions can be extremely transphobic spaces where trans students are named and humiliated, isolated and harassed.

Corrective steps

“We have to understand that the queer community is very diverse and literally can’t fit into a box. Best practices from global universities can be used to make our educational spaces inclusive. There should also be a focus on schools, as children’s mindsets are formed early in life,” says Aqsa, citing her own experiences. “As a trans medicine teacher and I have medical students trans in college, I can relate to the challenges our community faces. at every step, from hostels to toilets to graduations. It’s time to embrace change.

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