Ms. Tanisha Singh, the counseling psychologist at Mendlife Foundation, was joined by Ms. Aashi Singh, an English (Honours) student from Christ (Deemed to be University) on QueerAcademia’s Instagram livestream. The duo discussed Ms. Aashi Singh’s paper, “Why do we need an LGBT+ inclusive curriculum in school?” The discussion was conducted to facilitate an open forum discourse on curriculum and LGBT+ identities in school settings.
Ms. Tanisha Singh started the event by asking Ms. Aashi Singh about the inspiration behind writing the paper. Ms. Singh said that she wrote the paper with the intent of starting discourse about teaching children about the diverse nature of society – away from strict gender norms. Her inspiration stemmed from the awareness of ever-present queerphobia around her, her experiences in English Studies, and the cultural contact with the queer community in her college through the Gender Studies Forum. The paper, therefore, strives to tackle the intersection of the issues of curriculum, school spaces, and LGBT+ identities.
From there the talk evolved into an in-depth exploration of school life, school curriculum as well as queer existence in such spaces – as viewed by Singh’s own school experience. This discussion was centered on accountability, conformity, and allyship as these focal points were intricately woven in Singh’s work in the article. Among many insights, was the note of how conformity plays into the school environment. Ms. Singh remarked on the trapping of conformity, especially with regards to, “individuals who propagate hate”. “Make them accountable”, she said.
The dialogue about accountability led to a conversation about the importance of structural measures to promote accountability. Regarding such measures in school spaces, Singh emphasized the importance of a safe, non-judgmental and inclusive space. She addressed the need to train teachers as well as the need for change in school-level rules. Simultaneously, she remarked about the importance of student leaders and the role they can play in student-led spaces in the institution.
As the discussion grew heavy on the experience of school, Singh remarked on her own personal history and how it has been intricately impacted by the school environment. She explained how a lot of ideas are rigidly cemented during school time. This, combined with the struggle to accept self “as I am” – beyond the labels and ideas imposed by others, can be a particularly harsh road to take. However, a support system such as healthy friendship can provide a lot of strength in face of hurtful experiences from parents/family (which is sadly the experience of many in the queer community).
Beyond just school experience, Singh also remarked on the lifelong commitment to learning which she regards as central to human experience. Learning, reading, and researching are important and can facilitate deep empathy for stories beyond our own. With this poignant note, the discussion ended as an affirmation of Queer Academia’s aim to foster inclusivity, learning, and open discourse.
You may read the full article written by Aashi Singh on www.queeracademia.org