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Transgender Student Asked to Leave School in Guwahati Over Instagram Post

“I can't risk her life by sending her in such a toxic environment where students are policed and shamed,” the student’s mother said.
Credit: Pixabay

New Delhi: A transgender student enrolled at Guwahati’s South Point School was asked to leave the school after the principal objected to the student’s social media activity.

The class XI student, a minor, had posted photos of herself in a bathing suit on her personal Instagram account.

The student’s mother, Indrani Chakraborty, said that the school principal K. Chanda called her daughter on the night of June 10 and asked to speak with her guardians. He referred to the student’s social media post as “shameful and disgusting” and suggested the student be withdrawn from the school, she alleged.

“Parents/Guardians of [name redacted] of class 11, South Point School to meet me tomorrow in my office chamber positively at 11 am. [Student] to remain suspended from attending classes till further notice,” Chanda’s WhatsApp message dated June 10 read.

“[The principal] said that I should take my child out of the school as they find her social media post shameful and disgusting. She had posted a picture of a family pool date where she was wearing a swimsuit.

“On June 11, we went to meet the principal and were entertained by some teachers who were supportive of my daughter and said that they did not want her to leave the school as she is very inspiring,” Chakraborty alleged.

During the discussion with her teachers, Chanda said that the student could continue at the school if “she deleted her social media account, left her community and ongoing counseling sessions and followed the school counselor”, Chakraborty said.

“We denied [these conditions] and demanded a transfer certificate,” she said, adding that “I can’t risk her life by sending her in such a toxic environment where students are stalked, policed, shamed and suppressed. With whose permission did they invade my daughter’s privacy? Wearing a bathing suit at the pool is not illegal and it did not happen at the school premises.” Chakraborty continued that moral policing and character assassination will not be tolerated.

The Wire reached out to Chanda regarding the allegations. Referring to the student’s transition, Chanda said that the student received full support from the school in the process and was treated with respect.

“However, she shifted to her transgender community with her parents’ consent and started getting piercings and heavy tattoos done on herself [as well as] posting her seminude photos in sexually suggestive poses on social media. When asked to delete the photos, remove the piercings and cover up her tattoos, the parents flatly refused saying it’s their daughter’s right of self expression, even if she is a minor,” Chanda said.

The parents were told to either comply with the school’s directions in this matter or withdraw her from school, the principal said, adding that the parents then applied for a transfer certificate which was issued.

Associate vice-chairperson of the State Transgender Welfare Board Rituparna said, “A letter to the school [has been] issued from the State Transgender Welfare Board asking for an explanation for [this incident]. We are strictly taking note of this incident and such incidents must stop in education institutions. We want accountability from the school authorities and they must adhere to the existing law.”

Not the first instance of harassment

Referring to incidents related to bullying by her classmates, Chakraborty said, “Every day she has to deal with a lot, which has hampered her mental health severely.”

“There were even incidents of molestation but the guilty students were just warned and let go. Is that not more ‘shameful and disgusting’? Why were those students not expelled,” Chakraborty asked.

Chanda denied any such incident happening on the school premises. “No molestation ever took place at the school, only a few instances of verbal bullying [occured] that were dealt with [using] sensitisation sessions of students by our school counselor who is trained and engaged for this purpose,” he said.

On being asked why the school is concerned about a student’s private social media account or whether she lives with her community, the principal said, “[The] school is not concerned about the student’s social media account but what is posted by the holder and its impact on herself and others. Decision on living with her community is the parents’ prerogative but the school suggested the parents take care of their minor daughter themselves unless there are pressing issues not to.”

“I am prioritising my daughter’s mental health and standing by her side. I condemn the school’s attitude, violation of my daughter’s privacy and character assassination,” Chakraborty said.

“As a mother, I also demand an explanation regarding the act of calling at night and asking to take my child out of the school. If she takes any harmful step after so much humiliation and shaming, who shall be held responsible? These are the reasons why trans students drop out of schools so early,” she added.

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