Homosexuality might still be a crime in India and still a taboo of a topic to discuss, but the resource material prepared for adolescent kids in schools by the Health Ministry at least acknowledges its presence and informs children that it is ok to be attracted to people of the same sex. The material further suggests that the most important aspect of all such relationships are based on mutual consent and respect. The script of the resource material, which is in Hindi states that adolescents often fall in love and they fell attracted to a friend or any individual of same or opposite sex. The material further says that it was normal to have these feelings for someone but such relationships are based on mutual consent, trust, transparency and respect.
The material helps the kids understand that it was ok to talk to the person for whom you might have feelings but in a respectful manner and most importantly understand that when a girl says “no”, it means no. This resource material is to be circulated to all states as a part of the adolescent peer-education plan. The Health Ministry aims to reach the 26 crore adolescents in the country and has thus taken the decision to involve 1.65 lakh peer educators called “Saathiya”. According to IE, the resource kit prepared by Health Secretary C K Mishra deals with the issue of same-sex attraction with a level of maturity that was unexpected from the government and also talks about contraception and violence based on gender discrimination. The resource material has information on abortion and informs about the need for parental consent if the concerned girl is underage. Speaking to reporters, Mishra said that despite the expansion of media there were many questions that the youth wanted answers to, in villages and Saathiya was here to fulfill that need. The resource material has been created with the United Nations Population Fund as partners and dispels severe gender stereotypes. It says that it is ok for boys to cry and calling somebody a “sissy” or a “tomboy” was not right. It also deals with drug addictions, smoking and alcohol and lays down the long term harm.
In an Indian society that has been going back in time in terms of social development and freedom, binding people in the chains of gender stereotypes, gladly adapting patriarchy as a part of the tradition, this resource material is a beacon of hope. For it is only when the children are truly educated that the future secures itself. Yes, it is ok to have homosexual feelings. It is okay to have sexual feelings. But it is not ok to be rude and pursue after a girl says no. Sex education has been shunned in the classrooms far too long by either the government, or the teachers who just read along the lines as giggles go around the class. Hence, it is important to have a better equipped person teaching kids about sex-ed than some half-baked biology teacher whose only aim still remains to just get through the terror of the chapter of reproduction.