Odisha government takes steps to safeguard transgender rights in colleges, varsities

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BHUBANESWAR: The state government has instructed degree colleges and universities to establish monitoring committee cells at educational institutions, aimed at addressing issues related to prejudice, discrimination, sexual abuse, and various forms of violence against transgender individuals.
The higher education department, in a letter addressed to the registrars of all universities and the principals of degree colleges within its jurisdiction, has urged them to take the requisite actions to comply with the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to ensure the welfare of transgender individuals.Educational institutions have been tasked with providinggender-neutral facilities, including the construction of unisex toilets and restrooms.
On September 15, the NHRC issued these guidelines covering education, healthcare, employment, the promotion of inclusivity, welfare, and grievance redressal for transgender individuals.
Regarding education, the NHRC has called upon the states and Union Territories (UTs) to implement measures to facilitate access to education for transgender individuals. Authorities are encouraged to consider developing a policy to address issues such as violence, discrimination, and harassment within educational institutions.
“The education department of all states/UTs, as an interim measure, should advise educational institutions within their respective jurisdictions to protect gender nonconforming students from bullying, harassment, or other forms of violence,” stated the NHRC directive.
Additionally, the state governments/UTs are urged to establish an antidiscrimination cell at the district level for transgender individuals in every district and to set up a monitoring committee/cell within educational institutions. This committee is to address issues related to prejudices, discrimination, sexual abuse, and other forms of violence against transgender individuals.
The Commission has also called upon state governments to make all educational institutions inclusive for transgender students. “These students should not face discrimination in higher education, and suitable provisions for providing financial assistance to transgender students pursuing degree, diploma, or postgraduate courses should be ensured. Scholarships and free education schemes should be formulated for transgender students,” as per the NHRC directive.
Menaka Parida, a transgender social worker, expressed her satisfaction with the state government’s decision to create facilities for transgender students. She stated, “Gradually, the government is recognizing the challenges faced by our community and taking necessary steps for the well-being of our students. However, it is essential for institutions to implement these measures effectively.”

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