With the availability of media giving us insights from and about people across the globe, awareness about LGBTQ+ is getting better every day, but are our institutions doing anything to aid the children that are coming out every day? Are institutions even doing anything to at least try and understand and educate children about gender and sexuality?
I am from India and unfortunately, schools here are far from educating kids, let alone protecting them. Ever since my childhood, I have only seen representations of cis/het couples in textbooks and educational videos. Indian society, in general, is anti-relationship as they value family honour and do not trust people’s choices in their romantic partners. Same sex relationships are given little to no importance and are seen as a rather foreign concept. They are considered to be against Indian values and customs.
Most of the teachers and the administrators have no knowledge of who the LGBTQ+ are in the first place, so, these ideas aren’t paid heed to at all. In turn, children find it hard to fit in as they don’t even realise who they are, as society portrays them as misfits. The people of the LGBTQ+ community who face a lot the repercussions of a cis/het normative society(in India) are the intersex/transgender people. Intersex people are often disowned at birth and transgender people are shunned to the streets most of the time. Even with acceptance there, many institutions marginalize the students. A lot of people trans/intersex people are still very mistreated and sometimes even trans/intersex communities disregard those who live a comparatively normal life and don’t abide to the rules of their community. The use of slurs and name calling is very common against them and people who don’t fit the norms of a cis/het society.
Other sections of the LGBTQ+ aren’t even considered or heard of, like asexuality and non-binary identification. Most schools only set rules that favor the male-female gender norm, any other gender/sexuality identification is brushed aside and labeled as a mental disorder or as completely nonexistent.
But even with mainstream media being highly misinformative and anti-LGBTQ, politicians are slowly trying to learn and speak up about the LGBTQ+ and what it means for society. Recently, a High Court Judge of Tamil Nadu actually set an appointment with a psychologist to try and understand same-sex relationships as he felt that he was misinformed of the subject.
Schools should make education about the LGBTQ+ and such topics vital so as to help children know who they are, make them feel safe and accepted, to help cis/het students empathize better, to decrease homophobic bullying and the use of slurs. Protection and ally programs should be encouraged and children should be given more liberty of expressing themselves. We as students are always taught that same-sex relationships are unnatural, and that we have to fit into society’s gender norms, but with the world at our fingertips and social media being a platform for everyone to showcase themselves freely, we are questioning things more.
More children and adults alike are getting better at understanding themselves better and are becoming more confident about their gender identities and people are becoming better at understanding and accepting those who are coming out around them.