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A teen in UP’s Bareilly killed himself after being bullied by his classmates for his ‘effeminate behaviour.’ How normal is queerphobia and bullying in schools?
Trigger warning: This article contains details of suicide and bullying that may be triggering to survivors.
Recently, a 16-year old boy from Bareilly died by suicide after being teased and bullied by his classmates for his ‘effeminate’ behaviour. According to a report by The Logical Indian, the boy was constantly bullied at school and even by relatives for his ‘features.’ The boy left behind a note stating he was bullied at school.
On one hand, conversations around sexual orientation and gender identity are gradually finding its ground in India. And the LGBTQIA+ community, is getting a higher chance of representation in the media.
At the same time, schools are often the breeding ground for stigmatisation and bullying of queer students. The place where a child has their formative experiences often lack consideration towards queer students.
And instances like this one are far too common in our educational institutions. However, none of these incidents have triggered any initiatives to stop the queerphobic bullying in schools. Why aren’t we bothered enough to even discuss this situation? Are the environments of our schools set up to fail the LGBTQIA+ community?
“Of course kids would get teased for not being natural.”
This statement does more than just disregard the long term-devastating effects that bullying may have on the students. It makes the assumption that a child expressing their sexuality or gender identity in any way that is not heterosexual is ‘wrong’ and ‘unnatural.’
But, before talking about the failure of our institutions, there are several problems young queer people face as a result of the bullying and ‘teasing.’ An overwhelming majority of LGBTQIA+ students drop out of school because of bullying.
The bullying and teasing also account for higher rates of depression and suicide. Not to mention the effects it can have on the children who bully, leading them to carry forward many questionable ideas about sexuality and gender into adulthood.
Most of our institutions and families don’t really make an effort to prevent children from using these words. In some ways, this almost justifies the sheer amount of shame that queer individuals are subjected to in schools.
School authorities and educators hardly make an effort to understand the diversity of students who are part of their institutions. They rarely know that these students, in more cases are, complicit to bullying especially when sexual orientation or gender becomes the focus.
Schools are also actively intolerant towards queer individuals. And since, queerphobia fits in with the problematic morals that our schools want to teach children, it isn’t often seen as an issue.
The bottom-line is that schools are not always a safe and enriching place, especially for queer people. From inclusive bathrooms to normalisation of discussions about alternate sexualities, we have a long way to go.
Bullying in school, especially in this case, is not an issue that should be seen or dealt with as character flaws of certain students. Instead, it should be seen as a result of the way our society raises children to grow into public spaces that would keep excluding members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Schools need to stop breeding queerphobic bullies and try to foster better, supportive environments for students to be who they are.
If you or anyone you know is feeling suicidal, here are some of the helplines available in India. Please call.
Aasra, Mumbai: 022 27546669
Sneha, Chennai: 044 2464 0050
Lifeline, Kolkata: 033 2474 4704
Sahai, Bangalore: 080 25497777
Roshni, Hyderabad: 040 66202000, 040 66202001
Picture credits: Pexels
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Writing intern with a passion for gender justice
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