A school in Kolkata, India, has found a warped way to discipline its students and the state’s Education Minister Partha Chaterjee seemed to endorse it. On Wednesday, the minister said he saw reason in the school’s skewed disciplinary method of getting a few students to sign a written “confession” about their sexual orientation.
The incident that took place on 8 March involved 10 students of the Kamala Girls’ School in south Kolkata, who were apparently “being naughty” in class. The school allegedly received complaints from other students and were compelled to act.
“Some students had complained against 10 students of indulging in such behavior. We called those students and they admitted it. Considering the sensitive nature of the issue, I asked them to admit it in writing. I have got written admissions from all 10 students,” the acting headmistress Sikha Sarkar was quoted as saying by Indo-Asian News Service.
Minister Chaterjee came out in support of the school and said it was well within its rights to punish the students as it deemed fit as, “lesbianism is against our [Indian] culture.” Since injunctions on homosexuality are not explicitly mentioned in religious texts central to Hinduism, the largest religion in India, International Business Times cannot confirm the veracity of the claim made by the minister.
“We believe we should maintain our culture. If the school found it was indecent, it is free to take action against those students,” he added.
In 2017, India’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of the LGBT community by granting them freedom to safely express their sexual orientation.
“Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual,” the Supreme Court said in a judgment.
Parents of the students made to “confess” in the Kamala Girls’ School incident staged a protest outside the institution’s premises Monday.
The school told the Indian Express publication that the incident, which was intended to chastise the students and set them on the “right course”, was misconstrued by the parents.
“Today, we called the guardians to apprise them of the issue. Our aim was to discuss the matter with them so that we can bring these girls on the right course through efforts both at home and in school,” Sarkar told IANS.
Malobika, co-founder, Kolkata-based NGO Sappho for Equality – The Activist Forum for Lesbian, Bisexual Woman and Transman Rights told Indian Express that the whole affair appeared to discriminate against lesbian students.
“Are students in co-ed schools asked to write a confession about their heterosexuality when they are seen spending time together?” she asked.
Sayantani Roy, a former student of Kamala Girls’ School, who passed out in 2006, told Indian Express that she didn’t find the incident surprising since it’s a prevailing condition in school to discriminate against people’s sexual orientation. She said, “It’s not just this school. The whole atmosphere in traditional girls school is very oppressive. I remember we had a teacher who would take it upon herself to scold us if we displayed even a tiny bit of affection to our classmates. The term “lesbian” was flung around like it’s a swear word.”