BENGALURU: Even after Section 377 has been decriminalised in India, the status of inclusion still remains a question in the country. With an aim to promote inclusion and diversity in the society by educating the young generation, Canadian International School, Yelahanka, hosted a month-long symposium at its campus recently.
The focus of the symposium was on gender identity, sexuality, socio-economic status, women empowerment, LGBTQIA, mental health and HIV/AIDS, and the theme of the event was “How can we contribute to a sustainable inclusive society?”. The keynote speech was given by Tedx speaker and storyteller, R Balaji, who spoke about his life from the perspective of a gender fluid person and how his experiences made him the person that he is today. “Ten years of struggle made me a stronger person and I realised that coming out is a process. Today, I own my truth and my real self, and I think that has made me a better person. The symposium gave me an opportunity to share my story and add more value to it,” said Balaji.
As a part of this event, the school organised month-long activities, workshops and panel discussions on various societal issues related to gender, diversity and mental health, aimed at understanding prejudices prevailing in the society. Eminent activists and personalities such as Akkai Padmashali, transgender activist, Sunita Mani, author of Be.You.Tiful Conversations with a Counselor, Radhakrishna, member, Rotary International, Shilpa Raj, author of The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter, and Alex Mathew, drag performer from the Lalit Suri Group shared their life experiences and insights with students. “I hope more and more schools come forward and host events like this. It’s essential to educate children and say we are human beings like them,” shared Alex Mathew, who pointed out that he finds such school events are rare in the city.
Lauren Stewart, a class 10 student, said, “It is my personal belief that every human being who occupies this planet is entitled to dignity and respect, regardless of gender, sex, sexual orientation, race, religion, nationality, ability, or socioeconomic status.” The symposium concluded last week.