Beyond 8’s learning ecosystem is a progressive and accepting environment. Some of our learners of the Karthavyam (a social public problem-solving initiative) team chose to learn more about the issues faced by the LGBTQIA+ community. Little did they realize that giving it thought would result in the unveiling of a powerful guide: There’s room for everyone!
During the book launch, it was impactful to hear that one of our learners could identify with this community. This book is shared with schools and the wider public to spread the word on the importance of looking at LGBTQIA+ community members as an integral part of the whole that we define as humankind.
It was not an overnight feat. The wheel started rolling a year ago at the end of June when Beyond 8 “Imagin8ers” took part in the Samvaada (debating) module. Here they were exposed to several new topics.
The topic that piqued their interest was- integration of the LGBTQIA+ community. It was the first time the children found out about such a sensitive topic. Watch the podcast on this discussion by clicking here
The insightful discussion got critical after Samvaada, and this is where Karthavyam came into the picture. The enthusiastic learners proceeded further in exploring this topic, where they researched for months to gain knowledge. Along with their facilitators Deva Akka and Prathik Anna, they worked with a gender studies expert Ms. Ahalya Ganesh, who identifies herself as a part of the queer community, for a few months to understand the concept with clarity and appreciate the importance of the need to spread awareness about this community.
Learners learned about the atrocities committed against the LGBTQIA+ community. On the other hand, they also saw few instances of compassion shown towards this community. As they walked the adverse legal timeline of acceptance of LGBTQIA+, learners had a very holistic, deep, and meaningful understanding of the LGBTQIA+ community. Catch the exclusive discussion on the book by clicking here
The following excerpts capture the voices of the authors and their experiences in writing this book:
Shreya: Co-writing this handbook with my friends and facilitators has been a great experience of understanding, accepting, and implementing the learning to change society’s views on this community.
Swaminathan: When we believe we are right and others are wrong, the complex accounts, disturbing harmony. The LGBTQIA+ does not mean charity, tolerance, pity, or sympathy. It stands for empathy and acceptance. We want people to realize what gender is; provide clarity to the public. We want people to appreciate the relevance of this aspect.
Athreya: The people who are part of this community are also human beings. No law can dictate how a person loves or identifies themselves. Whether they love a person of the same sex or not possesses nothing to do with how other people lead their lives. They deserve equal treatment. It is not sympathy they need, but it is empathy. Pitying them will make it even worse than the current situation. That will only make them feel like they are non-independent beings who cannot take care of themselves.
Vivaswath: Just because someone has a different identity does not mean they are dissimilar to you in terms of respect and dignity. We have to be aware of how perspectives come into play.
Those who want society to fit their model are shrouded under prejudice to even something so profound as love: acting on it and making it a criminal act if that love is towards the same gender or sex.
Aishwarya: Being a member of Kartavyam has been an incredible experience! The extensive discussions that we had were simple to follow. Going through articles and videos based on different perspectives was so much fun! Our main topic of choice is considered taboo which made it inquisitive. My passion for it grew. It helped me break down stigmas related to it and help educate more people with the knowledge I gained. The idea of more than two genders existing in the past and was a norm is surprising to me as people nowadays quote that nothing of the sort existed in history; hence it should not exist today. Many people are against anything related to the LGBTQIA+ or gender identity solely because it is different from what they see as normal.
When fifteen, we strive to be accepted by society. Our identities and our choices are what we feel will make us fit in. When we look at ourselves inherently, we realize that there is something about us that we cannot push away. We feel it is something that would not be accepted and that we should not change for ourselves. What constitutes gender within society isn’t accurate. We grow up recognizing gender as something so simple as binary, male and female. We live around it and accept it as it is cause it is humane. We like to understand the ideals and values we grow up with and never question them cause it does not benefit us. I have grown up questioning and understanding who I am because most of my friends were cisgender heterosexuals. I felt awkward being put in that spectrum cause emotionally, I felt I wasn’t fitting into any box.
Gender is not a part of a spectrum. If you cannot fit into a gender, then can you skip it?
In the end, we want to be comfortable with identifying ourselves. We also want you to be okay with asking questions regardless of how stupid you may think they sound, as curiosity is better than ignorance.