Published: 08th December 2021
These Chennai students have come up with an LGBTQIA+ handbook to create an 'inclusive society'
The book has four chapters. While the first one deals with the problematic concept of 'others', another one tells real-life stories
In a changing world, there is probably room for everyone. At least, that is what the students from Chennai's Beyond 8 providers of liberal educationhope for. Five of them have now come up with a handbook on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, explaining concepts, gender, sex and sexuality in a better way for people of all age groups.
Five students of the school — Swaminathan Ramachandran, Athreya Sunil, Shreya Balaji, Vivaswath Tanikella and Aishwarya Shyam Chary — have worked on this handbook titled There’s Room for Everyone. "In Beyond 8, we had a module where we got to study about the LGBTQIA+ community and towards the end of it, we had the option of creating a project," says Swaminathan, a 12th grader. While he admits that the initial idea was to create a handbook and sell it and "feel quite entrepreneurial about it", he says that the group eventually realised the seriousness of the subject. "We then worked on creating something that educates people," he says. The group was mentored by two of their facilitators Devashree Vasu and Prathik Sudha Murali.
The book has four chapters. While the first one deals with the problematic concept of 'others', another one tells real-life stories. In fact, it even includes parts of landmark court judgments on inclusivity. "We also had a PhD researcher who belongs to the LGBTQIA+ community oversee the project at various stages," says Swaminathan. "Upon taking up the project, we delegated the work depending on every team member's strong point. For instance, Aishwarya is a very people person. She went ahead and collected stories of people from the community. We wanted to add those as that would make the content impactful. Athreya, on the other hand, worked on the timeline of judgments and Vivaswath and I did the fact-checking and debunked myths," he adds.
Devashree adds that the handbook went through multiple fact checks before it was published. "Ours is an inclusive school and we had a queer student look at the book and add their perspective before it went live. We also had a psychologist review it," she says, adding that the team had review meetings every Monday. The road to the book, they say, was quite smooth, except when a very real student problem hit them. "We had exams in between," Swaminathan laughs.