Published: 02nd April 2020
This Kerala college syllabus is getting flak for teaching students that 'Homosexuality is a character flaw'
Queer activists are calling out a value education textbook published by St Berchmans College, Changanacherry
A few days ago, Akshay was casually flipping through the college books of his relative Anil*, when a certain chapter from his Value Education book caught his attention. "One can overcome homosexual tendencies through treatment, spiritual life, and morality," read a line from the book, which is published exclusively for the students of St Berchmans College, Changanassery.
Out of utter shock and disbelief, Akshay spoke to Anil, only to find out that value education was a mandatory subject for the students and carries a weightage of 100 marks, every semester. "I was shocked. Despite the Supreme Court decriminalising Section 377 a year and a half ago and the Kerala government adopting a lot of queer-friendly policies, the college still chose to be homophobic and decides to teach the students that homosexuality is a mental disorder," says this psychologist. He then chose to call out the text and the college through a Facebook post.
We decided to take a look at the book. "Homosexuality leads to sexual anarchy," reads the chapter. "This is a character flaw and destroys the divinity of sex," it says. Akshay points out that the chapter clearly violates a UGC notification that says, "Any act of physical or mental (including bullying and exclusion targeted at another student on the grounds of sexual orientation constitutes to ragging." The book was last updated in 2016.
"I am a psychologist and this is not a mental condition. No psychology books will tell you that homosexuality can be cured. These misconceptions must be changed," he says. "Also, think about the situation of queer students who are forced to study this chapter and look down upon themselves," he adds.
Many queer activists and groups across Kerala have also raised their voices against the chapter.
Akshay is yet to raise an official complaint on the same. "During this lockdown period, I couldn't have done anything more. It's high time they change their syllabus," he says.