When I was in the eleventh standard, the vice principal of my school got it into her head that I was a lesbian. I think it all began when she saw my best friend sitting on an Italian exchange student’s lap, which in her mind made all three of us lesbians by association. It was hilarious, sure, but it was also pretty horrible to be bullied by figures of authority for months for being lesbian, especially when we weren’t. We were even called to the principal’s office and asked to explain the nature of our relationship and what we do when we go to the toilets together (use our cell phones and smoke). I later learned that teachers are always on the lookout for potential lesbians, and that every batch sees a few girls singled out like this.
I was thinking about this time when I read this bizarre piece of news this morning. A Calcutta school has reportedly accused 10 students of being lesbians, and made them sign confessions attesting to the same.
Apparently, some students (oh, wouldn’t I love to just meet them once) complained to school authorities that these 10 girls were lesbians, and when questioned by the administration, the 10 girls said that they were. Amazingly, IANS quotes the acting principal as saying, “Considering the sensitive nature of the issue, I asked them to admit it in writing. I have got written admissions from all 10 students.”
“Considering the sensitive nature of the issue, I asked them to admit it in writing!” How low is the bar for becoming a school principal these days? What kind of adult believes that the best way to tackle a “sensitive issue” involving the sexuality of young girls is to force them to make signed confessions? Why should students have to ‘confess’ to a sexuality that isn’t secret, illegal or immoral, and how much value does a “confession” that petrified students were forced to make in writing by their principal even hold?
The school also contacted the girls’ parents and guardians “so that we can bring these girls on the right course through efforts both at home and in school”. Naturally, angry parents and guardians stormed the school in protest, asserting that “holding hands, or putting an arm on each other’s shoulders” doesn’t make someone a lesbian. Nor, by the way, does signing a “confession” to that effect under coercion and duress. And even if they were lesbians, why is it a sensitive issue, or an issue at all, for school authorities?
Everything about this situation is just so infuriating. Looking at what the parents are saying, it feels like the school is arbitrarily labelling students as lesbians for holding hands, which sounds plausible, given the kinds of teachers I’ve met before. On the other hand, of course, even if they were lesbians, there’s no reason for their fellow students to rat on them, their teachers to persecute them and coerce them into signing documents, or for parents and teachers to work together to “cure” them of it.
And why do the kinds of people who clearly love torturing children become teachers in the first place?