What Support Do Educators Need in Discussing CSE in a Classroom?
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What Support Do Educators Need in Discussing CSE in a Classroom?

Dipika: TARSHI stands for Talking About Reproductive
and Sexual Health Issues, we are an NGO, based in Delhi aur hamaari kahi aur shaakha nahi
hai, we are just based in Delhi. And we have been working on sexual and reproductive health
and rights (SRHR) since 1996. We work on sexual and reproductive health and rights without
restricting it to disease prevention, violence against women or sexual minoritiesí framework
but rather approaching issues of sexuality from broader and affirmative rights based
perspective. Currently, TARSHI is also working towards
creating Safe, Inclusive, Sexuality-Affirming, or as we fondly call it SISA spaces. A SISA
space offers an environment that is non-judgmental, rights-based and sexuality-affirming, where
people can feel safe and free from fear to talk about, learn about and/or experience
their sexuality and sexual wellbeing. So thatís what the plan is for future and thatís what
we are planning to do. It is an ideal we wish to work towards, where sexuality is no longer
surrounded by shame or taboo. OkÖmuch about our work is on our website
so www.tarshi.net, you can go there for more information and the team is here to interact,
so if you want to know more about our workÖ here I want to mention a little bit about
our initiatives on sexuality education. TARSHI believes in the right of all people
and especially young people and women, to have information on sexuality, sexual and
reproductive health, so they can make informed choices about their own lives. The right to
information about oneís own body, the right to choose what one does with one’s body and
the right to make informed health related decisions vests in each individual.
For over two decades, TARSHI has worked towards making accurate information available to young
people through publications such as the ëThe Red Bookí and the ëThe Blue Bookí, the
books are there at the back, and by conducting trainings and sessions in schools and colleges
on varied issues related to sexuality with young people. We engage with organizations
and individuals at various fora such as conferences, seminars and small group discussions to highlight
the importance of sexuality education for young people. In 2014, The Y P Foundation
and TARSHI came together to organize a Landscaping and Strategy Meeting to explore the Dynamics
of Sexuality Education for Adolescents and Young People in India. We, as a part of a
collective of womenís groups, queer groups, NGOs, students, and academics working in the
field of gender, sexuality, and education, across India drafted recommendations to the
draft National Education policy, 2019, constituted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development,
Government of India. Our most recent initiative is a working paper ëWhat makes Sexuality
Education Comprehensive?í which documents the evolving nature and status of Sexuality
Education (SE) in India; so thatís what we have been doing about sexuality education.
As one of our initiatives towards comprehensive sexuality education, we developed a workbook
The Orange Book, this was developed in 2010, aimed at helping teachers and educators provide
comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) with confidence and easeÖand this is the publication
that brings us here today. So, we are opening our doors today to engage
on the issue of CSE but from the teachers and educators perspective. We started Letís
Open the Doors event a couple of years ago as platform to have conversations on issues
that are often not discussed. Our first discussion was for parents and concerned adults on speaking
with children and young people about sexuality; then we have another one on sexuality and
disability. And todayís event will focus on Comprehensive Sexuality Education.
Before we launch into todayís exciting discussion, I would like to pause and revisit two crucial
concepts or terms that will be used in todayís discussion a lotÖ Sexuality and Comprehensive
Sexuality Education and I have already used these terms. And before I say more, please
allow me to acknowledge that we have people in this room who are experts on sexuality,
experts on SRHR, CSE and AEP, here I am just sharing our understanding about these terms.
Sexuality is more than acts of sex. It is also different from gender, which refers to
how societies view women and men, the differences between them, and to the roles assigned to
them. Sexuality encompasses many ideas and is subjective. Any definition of sexuality
needs to reflect this diversity which is why it would be longer and more complex than expected.
The definition of sexuality has been evolving along with our understanding of sexuality.
And here is something that we all may already agree to, but I must repeatÖ Providing information
on sexuality is not the same as teaching someone how to have sex. It includes information on
sexual anatomy and physiology, on how sexuality is related to well-being, on how oneís sexuality
interacts with family or community, how that makes one feel, talking about oneís choices
in sexual partners and identities and how they can be negotiated etc. so bottom-line,
sexuality is not just related to sex. Another term which we feel is important to
talk about is Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE): Sexuality education sometimes gets
a bad name. Itís often termed ìSex Educationî or sex-ed, which is not what it is.
Very much like Sexuality, CSE is also broad. Comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) is
about bodily changes: puberty, growing up, physical differences. It is also about how
adolescents feel in their body – do they like what they see? Are they happy and comfortable?
Or do they feel there is a pressure to look and feel different? Sexuality education is
about young people’s likes, loves, relationships, with each other, with teachers, with their
parents and society at large. It’s about protection from abuse, violence, infections, hurt and
the pain of break ups. It is about values and responsibilities, rights and duties. And
finally, it is about sex too: what it is, the right time for it, who is the ‘right’
person is, how and when to say no and when and why to say yes. It is about viewing sexuality
affirmatively and responsibly. So these were the two terms which we thought we would revisit
before we start the conversation. Now bringing our focus to todayís event,
we will have Apurva and Pankaj in conversation with Vani from TARSHI.
Vani: So let me just introduce the two of them. ApurvaÖApurva Tripathi has finished
her Bachelorís degree from Delhi University and Masters from The Graduate Institute in
Geneva, Switzerland. She has been managing Udaya Public School, a CBSE Affiliated school
with 2060 students, itís located in Faizabad, she has been doing this since 2012. She has
actively worked on issues around Gender Sensitization and Adolescence Education Programme. She has
conducted multiple workshops for students to create Mental Health Awareness amongst
teenagers and also built modules on how to implement important interventions around the
issue in schools. Prof. Pankaj Arora, has been serving in the
Department of Education in University of Delhi for around 22 years. Prof. Arora has to his
credit four books, among them one called ëSex Education in Schoolsí. Itís been published
in English, Hindi & Gujarati, and another called ëProfiling the need of Sex and Safety
Education: A Special Case of Working Childrení. He specializes in the Pedagogy of Political
Science, Adolescence Education, Social Science Education and Democratic Education. Recently,
he was appointed University Convener for the Under-Graduate Curriculum Revision Committee
of 2019 and he has managed get it to done it very quickly. The University of Delhi has
implemented these revisions in the Undergraduate Curriculum in the current academic year. So
we are very happy to have you both, please join us.
Apurva: So what Pankaj and I briefly spoke about, what we will try to do is that we are
going to talk about why both of us think Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) is important. I
will talk about from school perspective and the challenges I have faced while implementing
it. I would also like to talk about breaking the myths and assumptions related to fear,
parents being conservative because I come from a very conservative part of the country
but I disagree that people are as conservative as we assume before we speak to them. I will
also seek Pankajís help as I have no idea how curriculum design works, or how are we
training our teachers, whether we are equipping them with the tools and overall compassion
needed to do the trust building and conversation about the sensitivities. So letís have Pankaj
start whether we are already doing the needful for of training the teachers.
Pankaj: Good Afternoon. As Vani introduced me I am there for 22 years and for the last
9 to 10 years have been engaged in sexuality education in schools. Perhaps, I was the first
to conduct formal doctorate on sex education for school students and in any university
in India. Since then I have been engaged in developing curriculum, workshops for schools
and universities, for teacher education, pre-service and in service teacher education for SCERT,
etc. And my experience suggests me that this is not something which can be left unaddressed.
Which donít need any attention. It surely needs attention; it needs to be an important
aspect of teacher education preparation and teacher education programme at any level.
Be it at elementary level, B.El.Ed, B.Ed., these three are the formal levels where we
prepare school teachers that will be best known for teachers. For primary teachers B.El.Ed
and for secondary and senior secondary schooling, B.Ed for school teachers. Are we doing something
in this or not, very vague and very confusing question, lot of times we have been discussing
it at different forums. My colleague Manjari jee is smiling because Delhi University (DU)
has seen many ups and downs, in introducing sex education, sexuality education, and adolescent
education in the curriculum for B.Ed as well as for B.El.Ed. Just now my colleague Nidhi
from Lady Shri Ram College was mentioning that B.El.Ed programme does not have any scope
of introducing sexuality education or adolescence education. So if DU is finding it difficult
and challenging in 2021 to introduce it formally at any level as an optional paper, as an electronic
paper, as a practical component, as a part of internship for B.Ed and M.Ed, itís still
a challenge and luckily after my doctorate on sex education for school students, in CIE
and DU we successfully introduced the adolescent education in which we talk of Comprehensive
Sexuality Education, whatever Dipika has shown just now is all a part of adolescent education
programme at the university of Delhi. But unfortunately, in 2009, when parliamentary
standing committee decided not to have any such programme, any formal programme in Education,
since then itís a struggle to bring some glimpses, some discussion, some videos so
itís a challenge. But one paper which is Psychology Development of Humans do talk about
Personality Development, growth and development, issues of stress and anxiety, these steps
are discussed. But I agree with you that formal training, formal orientation is still a challenge,
till date a challenge and we are looking for it.
Apurva: And you know this challenge is very difficult in terms of noticing how uncomfortable
teachers are. I donít think students are as uncomfortable talking about these things
as teachers are because as in when I started the conversation, for me it was almost unavoidable
because when I started running this school in 2012, a lot of difficult cases would be
presented to me. And amongst these difficult cases were mental health problems, or children
were not talking about it, you just have to scratch the surface and underneath all of
it was a lack of conversation on topics that we consider uncomfortable. So we have to understand
that all of these aspects are spinning over and if we are not equipping our children in
the 21st century with psychological resilience, then I believe we are giving them next to
nothing; because that is the thing that will help them navigate the world. So, I mean it
would very good if the decision makers of this country stop pretending like it is an
optional thing; itís an indulgence or a luxury. Because it is not a luxury for those of us
who are working with children. The only options we are left with is ok, ignore, let them just
deal with it because we know they are with us from 8 till 2 and then they will pass out
12th grade. Itís not like anyone will come back to the school and hold you accountable,
for you know all our children with crippling life skills. So what we are sending out to
the world, we have to take accountability and these challenges at policy levels are,
I guess it makes complete sense because the challenges are very much a part of the process
of our fractured modernity. But if we have embraced modern education, if we are going
to talk to our children and leave them in this world knowing that we cannot completely
control them. No human being can be controlled. And parents or teachers or people who are
trying to stop theÖ, I think this entire issue, the challenges that it faces is because
the need to control, the need to control whether along the lines of culture or whatever the
argument within the epicenter of control. And I believe you just cannot show me how
you can and in smaller cities itís easier to have these conversations with parents for
instance. When I am talking to them and ask them that if you are not going to address
this issue, do you think you will go with your child to Delhi or Lucknow or whenever
you want to send this child next to. Do you think you are going to put CCTV cameras everywhere,
do you think the child will never be smart enough to know that you are calling at a certain
hour and they can leave before that or after that. So once you break thatÖ. this perspective
that parents can control or we can control the larger world and contain the absurdities
and bring them on a side that this is not about me or not about you and either of us
can control the fact that we live in a dynamic world with ever present challenges and we
are doing a great service to our children. So I feel that Ö in my case what really helped
was that I was sitting in a place of power, I was occupying a space of power and privilege.
So when I spoke to these parents, most of them did not have access to good English medium
education that sells and most of them were aware that I have seen the world which is
something still very precious to those of us who are not living in bigger cities. So
I understand that every argument that I gave had that value which is why I was talking
to Vani and Pankaj about getting more and more school leaders on board and using the
power, using that position of power to have this conversation and not getting bogged down
because there will be fear. Yes there will be fear. There is always fear. Anyone who
has had children knows that they are sending them into a world which is not very compassionate
but thatís not an excuse to back off. You deal with that fear, you acknowledge that,
accept that yes, it makes sense that you are scared. But thatís not the solution. Letís
talk about facts, letís talk about the information. Infact I have been starting my adolescence
education programme with both boys and girls, dramatizing a little bit but I start with
the issue ofÖyou know I believe in love. There is nothing wrong with love. And it is
something that makes a lot of children stop still and I talk to parents also that you
know if you are not talking to them about adolescence education, sexuality, all of it
going down to this whole of love, that you are teaching your child these things because
you believe in love, and there is not just one kind of love. They are constantly being
bombarded with social media information and whether we like it or not, violence is more
realistically portrayed than love is. So where are they going to get the information is my
question. And I donít knowÖ I donít know what are the questions that come up in teachers
colleges because the ones that come up in teachers meeting are just about ìMaíam,
please donít make usî. Because they donít want to deal with difficult parents and rightly
soÖ So Iíd like to ask Pankaj if people who are studying to be teachers are they actually
inquisitive and excited about having these conversations.
Pankaj: Interesting question but not very encouraging answer. Even pupil teachers when
people who have opted to be teachers, are a mixed group of representation of the society
so you can find contradictions within young people of university of Delhi which I have
experienced. I can cite here a small example. Once I gave a questionnaire to one of my period
group and asked lots of questions were there one of them was how you see boys and girls
friendship or do you see school or college should play a role in defining gender roles
and boys girls friendship. So around 32% students said there is nothing like boys girls friendship
so if Delhi University is, teachers who are working or are professionally being trained
to be school teachers having this notion that girlís boyís friendship concept is not there,
it doesnít exist. Secondly Apurva what you are mentioning community; community is a composition
of multiple factors that values, cultures, religion, and lot others beliefs come into
the picture. And those beliefs have become part and parcel of people around when they
grow up. And at the age of 20 years, 22 years or at any later stage, itís very very difficult
to redefine their beliefs and values. People doesnít want to change likeÖ we do want
to talk of human development, we do want to talk about their physical, emotional and mental
development but we are not willing to talk about of sexual development. We are not willing
to talk about issues related to health and hygiene issues so such challenges are there.
You can see a small group of pupil teachers from my institute who are adolescence education
students I think around 15, aroundÖ how many of you are there from CIE.. These many are
there. But in dealing with them, I find a big challenge, me being 51 years and then
being with people of 23-24 years, many of them have rigid stereotypes so those things
are still there but we keep isolating…sort of and recently in one of the progressive
school outside Delhi, they came to know about one homosexual boysÖ 2 boys homosexual in
class 10th. You would be surprised to know that school is very progressive; I wonít
name it as ethics does not allow me to name the school but they kick them out. Both the
children have been sent out of the school. They have been asked to withdraw otherwise
school willÖexpel them from and they cannot get admission anywhere else. So such situations
are always there. I just want to quote Vatsayana who wrote Kamasutra. In itís opening line,
in my book also I have stated that opening line, ëDhan Tan ka moksha inme badha hai
kauníÖPhirÖ jo deta hai anand lekin leta hai maun. Ab ye 800 century mein maun.. culture
of silence ke bare mein baat kiya hai VatsayanaÖAaj bhi pictures mein bahut different nahi hai,
TARSHI can witness it and vouch for it. Their helpline is getting 50% sensible call and
50 % non-sensible calls. People are just wanting to vomit outÖ.so such situations is there
and schools like years, teachers like the future minds need to work on it and who is
good to be an adolescence educator is not related to age itís related to state of mind
so young by mind, not by chronological age, that is the challenge and that challenge is
there in 1989 when UNSECO came first with four modules of adolescence education and
in 2019, after 30 years the challenge is almost same.
Vani: I may add a question for both of you given the context that you come from. What
do you see as the role of teachers and in your case teachers in training in taking these
conversations forward? How does the society see teachers in contributing to these conversations?
Apurva: I mean, I am not sure if I can answer how society sees teachers but I can definitely
talk about how I see teachers and this is a no uncertain terms. I see this conversation
to be non-negotiable. And even if this is something whether we like it or not, we have
to talk to our children about it. ItísÖ I mean we are born out of sex, most of us
anyway, you know the times before IVF, we cannot be separated from it. And yes sexuality
is not just about sex but from childrenís point of view, I think this big mystery and
this bigÖyou know, this entire subject is shrouded inÖ not just now, here in now but
has been since forever because of our obsession withÖI think defining need categories and
believing that they exist like personal, professional, like no spill over ever happens but we are
necessarily dealing in messy terrain. Our education system is alsoÖ you seemÖ you
know this almost obsession with compartmentalizing subjects as in life problems will come as
Science problem or you know a Geography problemÖ it will be a problem and if we are going to
have healthy young minds ready to face this world and increasingly a world that is not
welcoming them with open arms in any way, in this country definitely so I think the
conversation has to be non-negotiable; yes, people will be uncomfortable. My staff was
also very uncomfortable and the fact that I was and continue to be unmarried was something
people were very uncomfortable with, especially the male teachersÖbut the fact that I was
convinced that this discomfort is temporary and we all will get over it. You know the
only way to face any fear is exposure to it and this is discomfort comes from fear and
you know when you throw the world around, the first meeting is uncomfortable, second
one is slightly less soÖthird oneÖfourth one. If you are justÖyou know if you are
not going to get bogged up then itís actually not about age. Some of the most sincere questions
after that, all gender act that I have encountered have come from much older people and you know
I always assumed that women would be more comfortable approaching me and talking to
me but that was really my sexist notion that has since been squashed. Itís all across
the gender spectrum, people who want to know, there are people who have struggled with it
and letís also not assume that this subject is something that people have not encountered
in their daily lives; they have and those having this conversation, if we are willing
to do the hard work of creating a space of trust and compassion and promising confidentiality
to teachers ,not just students, then all their questions will be addressed without that being
turned into a subject of gossip. Now another thing which I think was my privilege and that
really worked for me is that I donít interact very much with the social world outside in
Faizabad. Most of my friend circle or my social world continued to be based out of Delhi or
elsewhere. So nobody was ever scared of being bad-mouthed by me so that also I think kind
of opened up and if in school leadership, we can you know keep talking about the leaders
being sensitive to the needs of people and understanding that we all have dealt with
some issue related to sexuality, some struggle where we were completely at loss of words
and I think The Orange Book was very good, thatís where I want to appreciate it. It
took me back to thinking what issues I had. So in shortÖnon-negotiable for teachers,
has to come from a place of power and we have toÖthere is no short cut to discomfort, just
keep talking about it and it willÖI promise, itís a personal experience by the 5th or
7th conversation, you will feel the discomfort in the audience being a lot lesser.
Pankaj: Completely agree with Apurvaís observation. We must keep talking, sometime back Airtel
came with a slogan, ëBaat karne se baat banti haií and I discussed this slogan in my class
Ö I said, ìBaat karne se hi baaki baatein banti haiî. If you open up, you discuss,
you negotiate, some or the other stereotype will be broken and other ideas will come up.
WHO did a research in 59 countries and came out with a finding that sex education help
people to become more responsible adults. Be it for parents or teachers or co-workers,
etc. So when none study has said that sexuality education has damaged society in any sense,
I donít think there is any fear. Fear is in the mind, not in the curriculum, not in
the classroom and discussions with the teachers or parents. Now second point is should we
be brought toÖshould we be a part of school curriculum, teachers preparation, so I take
you back to 1994 when Vikas Kothari who is the leading sexologist of the country. He
gave a slogan in the opening remark for South Asian conference on sexology in 1994 I am
talking, 25 years back. He suggested that matters on sexuality should be brought out
from bedroom to drawing room and towards the end of this conference as a closing remark
after 4 days; he said ìthe time has come when we should talk about matters of sexuality
from drawing rooms to classroomsî. So 94 mein Vikas Kothari is advocating at a national
forum at a South Asian Conference that matters on sexuality and especially the concept of
Comprehensive sexuality, not only sex education which is a part of sexuality education should
be brought from bedroom to drawing room and drawing room to classroom. So concern is there,
discussions have taken place. NCERT and many other organizations, like TARSHI has been
working on these lines, but unfortunately acceptance is very very poor. Why parents,
why communities not willing to take it up and why teachers have resistance, I think
because they are not prepared. In Maharashtra, when SCERT got some modules on reproductive
health education, parents literally came with bat balls in their hands and forced government
to withdraw any such programme in 97 or 98 and when tried to find out the reasons for
such reactions from the society was two; 1) societyÖparents feel if school allow children
to discuss matters of sexuality in classrooms, then they may come and do some homework as
well. And family, they may ask certain questions which parents are not willing to participate.
They are not prepared to address or discuss those questions and queries of young people.
This is one major thing why parents are not supporting sexuality education programme.
Apruva, we must remember that we are in a country where parents have certain sanctity,
like how can I ask this to my father, how can I ask this to my mother. Ye sanctity ne
kahi na kahi barrier ka kaam kia haiÖinstead ofÖlike parent, me as a father of two young
children now completing graduation next yearÖboth. When my children discuss matters of homosexuality
and LGBT population, to one extend I can discuss with them and beyond that I find myself a
little difficult, though I am working in this field for 20 years till the orientation and
the exposure they have, I may not have and the open-mindedness which they are enjoying,
I may not because they are a product of a progressive school in Delhi so they can ask
me anything but me being a conservative father, not conservative in the sense that I am not
willing to talk to them but I have my limits as a father. As a teacher with these young
people in my institute, I can discuss anythingÖscientifically, rationally, objectively but with my own childrenÖso
my argument is that teachers are most convenient people who should take this agenda of dealing,
because they are educated, they are trained, they are dealing with adolescent, and they
understand adolescent issues and growth and development so they are the right and best
people to my understanding. Teachers whether they are willing or not have to take it up
only then this agenda on sex education or sexuality education or adolescence education
can be dealt with. Apurva: Yes, I mean we should take it up.
At the same time I feel and personallyÖI will bring in my personal experience. I am
the second daughter, of two daughters and my fatherÖbecause I lost my mother years
ago. With my father I almost had a non existing relationship until 8 years ago when I lost
my mother then I was like ok, this is the one parent left, I must have a relationship
with him. Now up until then, I had developed this, almost a personality to say what I meant,
say it kindly but you know not find the most palatable term for it. If we are talking about
shame then we will talk about why shame should reside only in my body, why not his bodyÖhow
can you localize shame in one body and to have these conversations in Hindi, because
my father doesnít speak any English at all, I realized our language has also rebated us.
So many times, issues, you know even with teachers, like for instance teachers role,
you hear a lot of time ëGuru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Kabir dohaí and I donít agree with
any of those. I feel teachers are as human as the next person and you know that obsession
with respect does such a huge disservice to us personally and to our students because
we walk in with that ego that we must get respect, we command respect, we donít work
for it and this cultural issue withÖyou know so do respect holding us back and shame and
honor holding us back, itís what putting our children at risk, risk of a lot of dysfunctionality
and in my friend circle, our age we realized there are so many issues which need not to
be an issue. They are issues only because they were never addressed in a SAFE Space.
Even amongst friends you know, because itís not likeÖbecause we grew up in progressive
schools or in a progressive setup. For an instance, a friend of mine who identifies
as a bisexual and she has largely dated women talked to me about thisÖjust two months ago
that even within her circle of female only and all of them at the time indentify as homosexuals.
They would not talk aboutÖyou know the fact that they could not imagine a future with
their partners, they could not imagine bringing them home because you know, in that age, whole
drive of empowerment, you talk about being empowered strong women as not accepting mother
ability. So the point that I am trying to make is that shame and respect is keeping
us from a very human and humane conversation which is that of mutual vulnerability. We
all have been heard and we will be heard. Thatís a part of the life and if we are willing
to have conversations about vulnerability, very soon we will find that we come to the
subject of sexuality, because you cannot avoid that subjectÖbecause itís very muchÖemerging
out from this vulnerability of ours and lot of our you knowÖeven radical, political,
etc, are not spaces of compassion. They force you to indentify to believe, you know a lot
of pride marches, not enough like the broken marches, you knowÖthatís what is not making
these conversations come to the drawing room and then the classroom. That you know we all
want to walk in a room and immediately get ëjee huzoorí and this goes everywhere, from
small places to the bigger places, parents expect us and itísÖif you look at it, itís
very patriarchal, itís very much like ëghar ka ek epicenter of powerí, not divided. I
guess again, you know just repeatedly having these conversations, finding new innovative
ways to have these conversations, looking around, and paying attention. To my father
I initially realizedÖbecause all of these words I know in English so to only explain
it to him I have to give examples. Like he feels he has sent his daughters to school
so gender is fine and he is like ënahi nahi ab toh aisa bilkul nahi hai, aj bhum log gaon
mein the tab bahut alag thaí, so one day I was like ë accha aap ghar jaate hai, aap
giniye aapko akele raaste mein kitni ladkiya dikhti haií and we were going home so I was
like ëaap giniye, agar barabar hai toh phir yahaan dikhni chaiye ghoomti ghaamti jaise
ladke dikhte haiÖakele ladkiyaan kitni dikh rahi hai, uske baad dekhna binda sindoor ke
kitni dikthi haií and when he started counting he realized that wait, this hasnít been the
same. I said jab aap jagah nahi baatoge barabari mein, the fact that we didnít get to walk
it off for so long, kyunki kahaan jaoge aap, aapke jo mudde hai wo ghar mei nreh jaenge
aur jab ladkiyo ke mudde hote hai, like in my school, a lot of teachers have opposed
this that if I find couples relationship, I do not disclose the fact to the girls family
without finding out the situation whether they are abusive, what action will they take
and I rely on the girl and if we have one of the siblings, interviews of hers, and I
am like no, I am not willing to take this and POCSO actually makes my life very difficult
to stand that point. Because I donít think writing a letter or having telephonic conversations
violates the child privilege to educationÖin a lot of girl child cases, education is not
given as a right, it is like ëtumko padhaaya likhaayaí, you know itís always likeÖyou
knowÖto one parent I actually in my early days I lost the plot I was like ë toh kya
aapka baccha that oh sadak par phainka thaí but you know it was come to productive and
I am not citing it as something that anybody should doÖnoÖdonít do it. But it wasÖit
something that becomes very frustrating but over the years, the narrative has been positive
for me, not negative because with every passing year, when I look back and I look at the difficult
conversations, I look at the struggles I had with my own personalÖgender struggle and
all of that kind of spilling out on to the work, I see that as dogged persistence that
I will talk about it. Let two spaces of learning you know actually growth and healing personally
for me too. Vani: Thanks ApruvaÖSorry. We will hear your
comments and wrap up. Pankaj: I just want to add a small thingÖthe
spectrum of language is a very important factor here. Sometime back Palaash wrote an article
stating that how my mother helped me in defining sexuality. And there he is explaining his
experiences as an adolescent boy at Kashi, Allahabad and Banaras and quoting those conversations
among parents in Hindi language and local language of thatÖand he was suggesting that
those were considered as vulgar discussions because Hindi language doesnít have terminology
that is considered as scientific which I believe is not a very good idea. Each language has
some vocabulary and we should not label one vocabulary as superior to the others. One
thing is that language is an importantÖlanguage has a important role to play in content as
well as pedagogy of adolescence education and content, specifically related to sexuality.
Second is the way girls are being exploited and harassed and not getting any freedom,
now a days, adolescent boys are equally being exploited and harassed on different forums,
school, outside school, bullyingÖbullying is of various types now so this isÖsometime
back I was narrating an example of 1982 when I was in class 6th or 7th. Those days my school
witnessed a case where a senior college boy in the same building was on knife point taking
a young 7th class boy to jhaddis, back side of the school and sexually exploiting him
and this is a case of 1982. So now the cases are much more severe and grave, we must look
into it and teachers because dealing with young people on daily basis can read their
faces and identify problem situation in life. So again teachers are the solution nowÖkitna
time lagega I am not sure kyunki 30 years toh hogaya TARSHI ko bhi kaam karte hue.
Vani: No no, letís not end on such a noteÖand letís end it with more confidence and hope.
Pankaj: We donít need 100% teachers, champions on sexuality. 5% can spread a bigger message.
Vani: We can start the conversations like Apruva has been saying this politically mandates
that makes things difficult, there are cultural issues that makes it difficult, there are
still things that we can do. There are still areas of support that teachers and educators,
people in the school system can receive so you know maybe like an elevator pitch sort
of a thing. What would you name; you know two or three most important forms of support
that teachers should receive to be able to take these conversations forward on sexuality
in a school setting? Sorry to put you on the spot butÖ
Apurva: I think continuous exposure to those who are willing to have this conversation
with the promise of confidentiality that will be most important. Second, consistent, you
know when I say continuous and consistent, I mean that these conversationsÖcannot be
a onetime thing because there is alreadyÖand I think all of our education system has prepared
us for it. You learn something and you get over it, we donít remember what we had learnt
in 7th or 8th grade in anyway so I donít need just trainings with handouts. I need
realistically sharing of storiesÖlike what was like a support group that method I find
being the mostÖyou know useful. I feel like if you sit down with teachers and talk aboutÖwe
do this problem solving session when most of the problems that come out, we donít confine
them to school space. We also make sure thatÖlike you knowÖand again there is politics in the
school space as well so they donít want to, the middle school teacher donít want to share
anything in front of a senior school, junior schoolÖthere is all of that so thatís whyÖthe
bonus has to be on these spaces beingÖmaking sure that trust and compassion is non-negotiable
and last but not the leastÖinformation could be correct and be continuousÖresearch scientific
information coming to them and the owners of research not being put on the. Most teachers
are not specialists in this field so theÖreliving them of the burden to know rather than engaging
them in the process of creating knowledgeÖI think.
Vani: If you have anything to add in terms of support that teachers or educators should
receive to have conversations on sexuality in a school setting.
Pankaj: Over a cup of tea, I was discussing with a young man from the work and we were
discussing how gender sensitization takes place in a school set up and we were in agreement
that this cannot be done overnight. This cannot be done with a short term course onÖwe thinkÖthis
needs to happen on a regular interval, like school should be conducting workshops for
school teachers as well as for school students. And this should be on a regular basisÖlikeÖsome
teachers should be trained to hold the daily basis cases and studies within the school
set up and some experts should be helping them on an interval of a month or a quarter
sort of thing. So those things should be happening on a regular basis and not once a while. Secondly,
pre service teacher education must make it as a compulsory component that school students
should be trained how to deal with anxiety, stress, relationships, stuff like that because
that is triggering a lot of young people into a difficult corner, a dark corner where they
are not finding a way out. And out of stress, the acid attacks, sexuality crimes, sex crimes
is increasing because they are not aware of the channels through which they can easily
pass the experience and discuss themÖ it can be a solution to those problems. So regular
discussions, workshops and trainings sessions and pre service teacher education is the way
forwardÖ Vani: Thank you so much Apurva and Pankaj.

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