Last week, Scotland became the first country in the world to mandate an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum across all public schools, and will be providing all necessary aides and resources to the educational institutions to conduct teaching of LGBT education in the adequate manner, which also includes short films and documentaries.
Scotland is one of those countries which have legalised almost all the aspects of LGBT existence, activities and have set laws in place for their protection, earning their rank among one of the most pro-LGBT countries of the world.
Source: Christian Examiner
Earlier in 2017, California became the first US state to incorporate the same in their schools. But not every country is anywhere near following the suit. The scenario is much different in Asian countries, especially one like India which only got its homosexual rights this year.
What is ironic about this situation is that although many western and some eastern countries have decriminalised homosexuality, and have marriage, adoption and health laws in place in support of the society, the inclusivity into educational syllabus is something that the world is yet to see at large.
But shouldn’t it be given an equal importance when it comes to LGBT issues?
Why should LGBT curriculum be included in the syllabus?
It is said that children are like blank pages. Whatever is etched upon our mind in our growing years stays with us all our lives, unless we make a wholesome and educated effort to unlearn and learn in adulthood.
And up until the students of current years, no previous generation had the opportunity to study about the LGBTQ community, nor did they grow up with LGBT rights being such a burning issue of the society. In short, they weren’t “mainstream” enough to know about.
As a result, those who grew up to identify with anything other than cisgender and heterosexuality, found themselves endlessly questioning and feeling “different” and isolated, while the rest went on with their lives using slurs derogatory to the LGBT community, like ‘faggot’ or ‘carpet-muncher’ or ‘tranny’ without quite knowing the implications of any of them.
One can say that in this case, unfamiliarity was breeding contempt, and breeding it big time.
Moreover, many academics who hold progressive minds agree that to exclude the contribution of the LGBT community from the fields of science, politics, literature or any subject, or to deny the LGBT identity of the existing names means to only teach the history of the society partially. And every kid who is going to school deserves to know the complete narrative, and not one which erases an entire community off.
What are the challenges to that?
The main problem in this case is the problem itself, and it is the worse kind of societal loophole there can be. The challenges to implementing LGBTQ curriculum lies in the fact that most of the people who are in charge of making that decision are not themselves educated enough in the matter, and neither are they interested in being so.
After the decision by Scotland was announced and Deputy First Minister John Swinney made his statement about teaching LGBTI equality and inclusion across different age groups and subjects, there already were people opposing the call.
According to a daily, Simon Calvert, the deputy director of the conservative advocacy group of Christian Institute said that he didn’t want to see controversial political agendas being taught in schools, and thus such a decision will isolate the kids whose families do no agree with pro-LGBT.
What an irony.
If there are such vocal opposing voices in a progressive country like Scotland, one can only imagine how much it will take to start LGBT-inclusive syllabus in most of the other countries, including India.
Are there any alternatives?
To be honest, there is no better alternative to school education at all. But fortunately it is not the only alternative. For countries where the government is not keen on taking such initiatives, but there is no law against non-profits or any private organisation to do the same, there can be workshops, movie screenings, book readings and other cultural events.
Source: The Japan Times
Thanks to the internet and its vast, vast reach, a large part of the young generation has already swayed towards learning more and more about LGBT history, reading and watching LGBT themed work and in general, being more understanding, kind and empathetic towards the issue. A lot more young people know about the Stonewall Riots or the story of Lili Elbe (The Danish Girl starring Eddie Redmayne as Lili) that they did even a decade ago.
It has assured uncountable LGBT youths that they are not alone in this, and that there is nothing different or wrong about them, and has taught the non-LGBT youths to be better allies.
And there is hardly any scope to deny that it has been possible because of the exposure and subsequent learning. But the education of the youth should not come at the price of the privacy and peace of mind of the LGBT community. They should not have to keep coming out with their personal stories again and again, so that the rest of the world might finally learn and make it a safe space for their community in the years to come.
It should be the other way round. And the only way to make that happen is to start teaching the kids at grassroots level.
Who knows, this might just be the case where familiarity breeds respect.