Saathiya Resource Kit, India: “It’s OK to be Gay!”
Indian Health Secretary C K Mishra is an enlightened human being. He created the Saathiya Resource Kit that includes a mobile app and Peer Educators can help adolescents. Imagine how most LGBT persons would have felt if teachers had told them that “It’s OK to be Gay!” Even though homosexuality is NOT decriminalised in India, the resource tells students it is ok to be attracted to be people of the same sex. It says it is normal to have these feelings.
Questions and Answers.
What does it mean to feel attraction for members of the opposite, or same, sex? How does menstruation affect the body? Is masturbation a sinful activity? What does it mean to have safe sex? The kit also tackles the issue of reproductive health, especially the use of contraceptives, headlong and with unusual complexity. Apart from imparting information about HIV and sexually transmissible diseases, it explains basic facts about pregnancy and abortion, admitting thereby that teenage sexual encounters or pregnancies are not as uncommon as society would like to believe. There are also clear instructions about what consent means: a no is a no is a no, under any circumstances, says the kit.
Menstruation, another forbidden topic among Indian families that has lead to severe drop-out among young girls from schools, is also discussed with surprising maturity.
Apart from engaging with specific issues of health and hygiene, the kit reportedly tries to change the way masculinity and femininity are perceived by young people, most often due to conditioning since their birth. Boys, therefore, are always given a wide berth to act like boys, while girls are expected to be sugar and spice and everything nice.
Minister Mishra is quoted as saying, ’Our country is home to 253 million adolescents which is largest in the world in terms of absolute numbers.Adolescents are the critical mass of asset which in future would be the biggest dividends to the country’s economy; thereby their health and wellness are of utmost priority.”
He further explained that “ The kit is being launched to enable the (1.6 million) Peer Educators towards taking their job forward and answering all the queries in the minds of an adolescent in-spite of the plethora of media (Magazines, TV, internet etc.) available
The Peer Educators will be trained to be recognized as a ‘saathiya’ – a good friend to students.
Paula here. I am so impressed at this educational tool. The separation of religion and state allows true scientific thought. In March 2016, the World Psychaitric Association consisting of 180 countries wrote a declaration to the United Nations and world leaders. This scientific body with a huge research base, stated that homosexuality CANNOT be reversed. India is a member of WPA. Well done, India.
What is in This Kit?
There are statements such as “It’s OK to be Gay!” Another statement reads, (Students) can feel attraction for a friend or any individual of the same or opposite sex. It is normal to have special feelings for someone.”
The Indian government has released a new health resource for school students which discusses sexual consent and homosexuality. The sexual consent is very important because India and South Africa are the main countries for rape against women and children.
Kit Also Explores Other Issues:
Human Sexuality is included along with discussions of health, drugs and alcohol. Forming and exploring relationships is important to teenagers around the world. The kit states It is :normal to have special feelings for someone. It is important for adolescents to understand that such relationships are based on mutual consent, trust, transparency and respect. It is alright to talk about such feelings to the person for whom you have them but always in a respectful manner… Boys should understand that when a girl says ‘no’ it means no.’
Minister Mishra said the most important component and driving force of the program were its Peer Educators and this resource kit was launched to help them to communicate with teenagers.
Right-Wing Religions and Sexuality
Paula here again.
I look at this kit and find that it extremely educational and helpful to adolescents. Many southern USA states have right-wing Christians on boards of education. They look at adolescents and sex and state that celebacy is the answer. In such states where this is practised, teen pregnancies have increased and homosexuality is cited as an
‘abomination in the sight of God.’ No wonder there are so many homosexual teens who commit suicide.
Here is what Minister Mishra says about the human value of teens.
‘Our country is home to 253 million adolescents which is largest in the world in terms of absolute numbers,’ Minister Mishra said.
‘Adolescents are the critical mass of asset which in future would be the biggest dividends to the country’s economy; thereby their health and wellness are of utmost priority.’
‘The kit is being launched to enable the (1.6 million) Peer Educators towards taking their job forward and answering all the queries in the minds of an adolescent in-spite of the plethora of media (Magazines, TV, internet etc.) available,’ he said.
The Peer Educators will be trained to be recognized as a ‘saathiya’ – a good friend for the students.
Smartphone App to Help Shy Kids
The mobile app ‘Saathiya Salah’ can be used by students who might not have access to the Peer Educators and is also linked to a toll-free Saathiya Helpline (1800-233-1250) which will act as an e-counselor.
The app and helpline was designed to help the shy adolescents or those unable to interact with the peer educators due to family reasons to access the information.
What is Masculinity?
The kit states:
‘Being rude and insensitive is not a sign of masculinity. It is alright for boys to like things like cooking and designing that are normally associated with girls; adopting the role of the other gender does not mean that he is not male.
‘The same applies for girls who talk too much or like to dress like boys or play games like boys. It is wrong to label such people as ‘sissy’ or ‘tomboy’.’
Developed in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund also works to dispel gender stereotypes.
It teaches students that it is ok for boys to cry and calling somebody a ‘sissy’ or a ‘tomboy’ was not acceptable.
‘A boy can cry to give vent to his feelings. He can also be soft-spoken or shy,’ it says.
India is one of the first truly great civilizations of the world. And I feel that it is keeping to its fine tradition. Paula.