News by YKA Staff:
In an incident that highlights the need for gender sensitisation in small towns, a teenager from Agra set himself on fire when teased for getting intimate with a male friend in a park, the Times of India reported on January 4th.
According to the TOI report, the 15-year-old boy is currently admitted in a private hospital after sustaining 40% burns. However, he is reportedly out of danger.
The report said that the teenager, apparently a school topper, was observed by some locals while he was sharing intimate moments with a male friend in a park in the town. He was subsequently teased and harassed following which he took the drastic step. He is a student of science, the newspaper reported, and plans to take up engineering as a career.
Interestingly, the report itself demonstrates a lack of sensitivity, as it suggests that the boy was “caught” in the act by a neighbour, in particular.
It is important for gender sensitisation to begin at school, as the unfortunate incident amply demonstrates. This will help youngsters immensely to recognise their own sexual orientation without feeling guilty about it. At the same time, such a move will also sensitise youngsters to respect the sexual choices of others, without stigmatising individuals or singling them out for the same. As it is, sex education itself remains a contentious issue in India, with hardly any one concerned that children pick up the rudiments of sexual behaviour and attitudes through dubious sources which can warp their thinking and make them believe in unrealistic fantasies as facts. The incident certainly makes known the need for gender and sexuality education in schools and the government would do well to take note.