Published: 26th June 2018
What I learnt growing up as a gay person in the Indian education system
If we are able to teach young Indians to respect all genders and sexualities instead of leaving them to learn from slyly accessed porn clips, then we would have truly made progress
Growing up queer is fun. It’s loads of fun, but it isn’t easy. Growing up queer in Tamil Nadu is even more fun, especially because you’re always afforded a blanket of greyness to shroud yourself in. The topic will never come up. Nobody talks about sex in Tamil Nadu. I should correct myself. Nobody talks about sex the way one should, in Tamil Nadu.
Like any other proper Tamil paiyyan, I too grew up in an educational system that was far too shy to talk about gender and sexuality. For that matter, my sex education often came from over-enthusiastic seniors who loved playing ‘show and tell’. It took me a very long time to even muster enough courage to scour the internet for a naked picture of a woman (highly academic one, I must add) to even understand how different female genitals were.
Sex is so taboo it could be a beef cutlet
Sex is still taboo in our educational systems. This is a truth one cannot refute. From giggling teachers and lessons taught in hushed whispers – most sex education in India is terribly inadequate and highly misleading. Almost 3 out of 10 Indians even today assume transgendered people are born with both genders and have never ever heard the term intersex before.
When PornHub is more effective than Preethi Miss
Sex in India is still learned largely from MMS clips, sleazy magazines, misinformed peers and abusive pornographic videos. Who will tell that 14-year-old in the house beside you watching porn, that women don’t enjoy being treated that way… or that the young boy in the pornographic video doesn’t miraculously start ‘enjoying’ rape, because ‘he got used to it’? Who is going to teach that adolescent/young teenager that sex is about mutual consensual pleasure and not about one person using someone else to fulfil his/her/their needs?
The need for sensible Sex Ed is ACUTE
A thorough sex education at school is not just important but should be made compulsory. Today’s syllabi across the country teaches young people about two genders: male and female. It insists that all sexual acts need to be heterosexual. The colours of the rainbow in between are ignored most wilfully.
The need is for a sex education that focuses on positive sexuality. Beginning with the removal of the idea of gender being binary, sex education needs to inform one that genders can be many and that one can also transcend gender and be somewhere in-between.
Sex education needs to focus on the equality of genders. It needs to talk about sex, genitalia, sexual acts and sexual health; this way the unhealthy curiosity that most Indians have about the other will cease to exist. The sex education that we deserve should openly speak about respecting each other’s bodies, about being sexual and the about the wide spectrum of sexualities that exist.
Sex education needs to teach young boys to respect young women. It needs to teach young women and men to respect all transpeople. Sex education should go beyond mere copulation and fertilisation and talk more openly about intimacy, consent, infatuations and the likes.
If sex education can teach children that it’s never just black and white, but rather all the colours of the rainbow… half the battle is already won. A healthy society will do the rest.
Rōmal Lāisram is a Bangalore-based content professional who also takes pride in being a human rights activist. He is also the founder of Queer Arts Movement, India. While not capering around as a masked vigilante he also dates willing boys. He loves cats.
(The views expressed here are the author's own)