Should our school textbooks say mummy brooms the house and dad reads newspaper in the morning? Can’t it be other way round?

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Nastik Nation Desk ~

Kerala government is in for gender-neutral school textbooks, textbooks to be also made trans-neutral so that children develop respect for the third gender as well. Move comes after half a dozen of dowry deaths and violence against women in the state recently. The Kerala government has decided to audit and revise school textbooks to make them gender-neutral, although experts have cautioned about the lack of Malayalam equivalents of some English words. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced the plan to revise school textbooks on Twitter on Thursday: “To inculcate a culture of gender equality, Kerala’s school textbooks will be revised and audited to sieve out words and phrases disparaging women. Steps will be taken to turn our schools and colleges into spaces that embrace the idea of gender equality and equal rights.”

Education minister V. Sivankutty said gender equality and gender justice would be taken in “all seriousness” while reforming the education system. “All words that stand against gender equality must be changed. This will be taken up in all seriousness while reforming the educational system,” the minister said in a statement issued by his office.

An official in the education ministry said a decision would be taken soon enough on seeking suggestions from educationists and experts in gender justice to scrutinise the textbooks and make them gender-neutral.

To cite a few examples, postmen is supposed to become mail carriers, stewardesses would be flight attendants, clergymen would be just clergy, salesman would be salespersons or sales executives, and mankind would be re-written as humankind.

Language experts and academics pointed out that the Malayalam vocabulary might not be broad enough to find equivalents of English words. Although some English words are transliterated in Malayalam textbooks, the first preference would be to use a word in the native language.

Demand for more

The chief minister’s announcement has triggered suggestions that textbooks be also made trans-neutral so that children develop respect for the third gender as well.

“Good. Include trans-inclusive and friendly language. Have toilets in schools for trans kids too. Educate teachers so they get represented,” an user named Ashayy tweeted in response to CM’s announcement.

Being the first state to come out with a Transgender Policy in 2015, Kerala has since taken several steps to provide ration cards, identity cards, health care and employment to transpersons. But many still complain about the lack of inclusiveness in the state’s ecosystem.

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