CHENNAI: All my teachers liked me except my Maths teacher. He used to beat other students on their hands with a stick but when it came to me he would beat me on my back. He said that he hated seeing creatures like me as I was feminine-looking and cursed the person who gave me admission,” read an individual account published in Be a Buddy, Not a Bully! Experiences of Sexual and Gender Minority Youth in Tamil Nadu. This report, jointly published by UNESCO New Delhi and the Department of School Education, Government of Tamil Nadu, was released on Tuesday.
The report addresses the issue of bullying based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) in schools in Tamil Nadu. Working together with NGOs Sahodaran and the Centre for Sexuality and Health Research and Policy (C-SHaRP), the report took samples from Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Salem, Tiruchy, Tirunelveli, Thanjavur and Vellore.
Almost all participants revealed that they had experienced some form of bullying in school. “We found three kinds of abuse — verbal, physical and sexual — sexual bullying was the highest at the primary level, and as they grew older, physical abuse became more prevalent. It is possible that as they grow older, they are able to fight back and form a friend circle that would help them,” said Venkatesh Chakrapani, chairperson of C-SHaRP and one of the authors of the study.
The study also recorded the forms of bullying children underwent. “One of the most unsafe places in a school is the bathroom. After Section 377 was decriminalised, we can now work towards solving these issues at the grassroot,” said founder of Sahodaran, Sunil Menon.
Minister for School Education, KA Sengottaiyan and Pradeep Yadhav, principal secretary to the Government of Tamil Nadu were present. A MoU was signed between the Department of School Education, Government of Tamil Nadu and UNESCO New Delhi Office for advancing the health and wellbeing of adolescents in middle, secondary and senior secondary schools in Tamil Nadu.