Varsities to conduct sensitisation programmes for staff, students toward third gender
This admission season, while most things remain the same, one added feature is the acceptance of the third gender at colleges under the instructions of University of Mumbai (MU).
Most colleges have already printed and distributed admission forms with third gender as a separate column (Male, Female, Others) under the gender category. However, colleges are also taking steps to ensure that their students and staff are sensitised toward the transgender community and are ready to welcome the third gender with open minds.
File pic for representational purposes
"We want to make sure that when they enter our campus, they feel welcome and are a part of it. Our staff has attended several workshops to understand how to handle cases where third gender students apply for admissions. The aim is to get rid of the social stigma around this community," said Indu Shahani, principal of HR College at Churchgate, which was one of the first institutes in the city to add the "others" category under gender in their admission forms.
The Supreme Court, in its judgment dated April 15, 2014, had asked the Centre to treat transgenders as socially and economically backward and that transgenders be allowed admission in educational institutions and given employment on the basis that they belonged to the third gender category. Following this, in August 2014 the University Grants Commission (UGC) opened all its scholarships to people from the third gender and also requested universities to make similar changes to their admission process.
"We started sensitisation programmes last year and our students had also performed a skit all over the city to raise awareness. This year too, we will conduct similar workshops for students as well as staff," said Padma Deshmukh, principal of CHM College in Ulhasnagar.
According to Mrudul Nile, in-charge of the students' welfare department at MU, the university wants colleges to bring about structural changes like separate rest rooms for these students. "We also want them to focus on providing counselling whenever needed as well as have a grievance cell for the third gender at the earliest. Colleges have also been asked to appoint one teacher as a mentor for third gender students," Nile said.