I have always been reprimanded for the upkeep of my books. The corners are generally torn or folded, the underlining often goes over the text, and the empty spaces become a canvas for my scribbles and thoughts. Eventually, I did realize that I needed to be more careful, and hence, a resolution was born. My books, as I decided, were now to going be in perfect condition. On the contrary, I ended up creating a bigger mess than usual. But this time, it was not a result of my carelessness.
It was the result of my reaction to the ignorance towards the inclusion of the LGBTQIA+ community; the cis-heteronormative language of the text.
According to my sociology textbook, under a monogamous system, “at any given time, a man can have only one wife and a woman can have only one husband.” But I wondered, could a man not have a husband? And also, what about those people who fall under the non-binary umbrella? How about simply saying that only two partners can legitimately enter a matrimonial alliance in such a system?
My psychology textbook states that “Around puberty, adolescents show an increase in interest in members of the opposite sex.” But attraction does not necessarily have to be towards the opposite sex. And attraction does not necessarily have to be experienced by everyone.
I struck off all such connotations from my book. The gendered he/she was continuously being changed to ‘they’ as I did not want to read something perpetuating binary norms. But I knew this was not just a matter of my comfort. The issue was much deeper.
Consider the mess of emotions in a child whose feelings do not align with the cis-heteronormativity imposed by the text; who does not have the exposure to the facilities you and I do: platforms like these, series with representation, exposure to correct information. Do they not deserve to feel connected with who they are, and be assured that whatever they are going through is okay?
Consider a child who does know who they are, and yet are in a conflict every day as any sense of acceptance they might have had cripples back.
Do they deserve to sit in a classroom awaiting the invalidation of their identities?
People belonging from the LGBTQIA+ community should have the same right to education as I do. The only reason they should be looking forward to having a class cancelled is perhaps that they are bored, not scared. Can we stop excluding the community from every possible context? It is high time that we destigmatize this conversation. The country needs to know that people exist in beautiful forms, and not everyone is cisgender, heterosexual, and allosexual.
With all this in mind, I began a petition addressed to NCERT and CBSE, and I need your support to make this change happen, to make textbooks inclusive of the LGBTQIA+ community. Please spare a minute to check out the petition, and sign and share it.