The services of a teacher at a private school in Mohammadi area of Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh were recently terminated allegedly because of her gender identity. Jane Kaushik, the transwoman from Delhi, says she was asked to leave soon after she revealed her identity to a student. She had joined the school around late November as a social science teacher. With her case being highlighted in the media, the National Commission for Women (NCW) has now asked the UP chief secretary to probe into the allegations.
With a Masters and a B.Ed degree, Jane was not only qualified for the position, but had also successfully cleared three rounds of interviews and assessments, which validated her professional credentials. However, though she checked all the prerequisites for the job, her appointment narrowed down to “one undocumented promise”. The authorities at Uma Devi Children’s Academy had reportedly asked her not to reveal her trans identity to the school staff or students.
“‘Don’t reveal your transgender identity to the school’s staff members and our students, and you can have the job,’ is basically what they said to me…,” Jane wrote in an online petition filed on Change.org, seeking to be reinstated in the job.
“The administration should also sensitise their staff and senior students about the rights of transgender people, and also set up a proper complaint mechanism that could support transgender teachers and children on the campus,” she wrote in the petition, which has been signed by around 3,000 people so far.
According to Jane, the school’s instruction to not reveal her identity was a blatant violation of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019. Speaking to ABP Live, she said: The school principal’s behaviour was not appropriate at all and what the school authorities have done is a criminal offense. Despite pleading and begging to the principal to allow me continue my services, she told me not to waste my time. I felt helpless and vulnerable at the time with no form of support mechanism around. The principal insulted me because of my gender in front of male teachers leaving me with sheer trauma and shock.”
Jane added: “I have heard similar ordeals from other members of the trans community as well, and I don’t want this incident to be repeated again with any other trans person. I want the principal to apologise for her disgraceful behavior, and I want my job back. This is no more related to my job, instead, it’s now a matter of my dignity and identity. Students and the broader public in general should be more sensitised around trans people, their struggle and their rights, and schools should come with a specific grievance redressal committee to safeguard the interests of trans teachers, staff as well as students.”
With Jane’s story being widely shared on the internet, the NCW took suo motu cognisance of the matter and asked the UP chief secretary to order an independent inquiry into the matter. “We have received a notification from NCW and a probe team was sent to the school. We have consulted a senior prosecuting officer and any issue related to hiring and termination will be dealt with by the court. We will be filing our report within a week, “ Arvind Kumar, Circle Officer, Mohamadi police station, was quoted saying in a Times of India report. Jane, however, told ABP Live that the NCW or the police are yet to get in touch with her.