Textbooks VS Reality: Misinformation About Sex Education in Indian Textbooks
From guilt-ridden discoveries to textbook misinformation, India's education system is failing our youth. It's time to ignite change, embrace open discussions, and provide comprehensive sex education that empowers and enlightens. It's time to revolutionize sex education, challenge taboos, and empower our youth with knowledge that embraces diversity and fosters a culture of acceptance.
Sex. Porn. Masturbation. Guilt. Guilt is all that used to come across my mind when I learnt about sex on the Internet, in sixth grade. It came to me as a shock. Did I discover something I was not supposed to know? I never asked my parents about it just because I felt guilty that I had done something extremely wrong. Until, I got the ‘sex talk’, two years later, and realized that sex is not wrong, it is completely natural. So, if sex is normal, why is it not discussed openly? Why is this basic human necessity a taboo?
Allen Academy, one of the most renowned JEE and NEET preparation academies, with more than two hundred centers across India, successfully “taught” misinformation about sex and sexuality. According to its pre-medical biology textbook, the transmission route of AIDS, amongst other falsities, is homosexuality.
This clearly depicts how homophobia is being propagated amongst the youth through textbooks.
Homosexuality is the romantic or sexual attraction between two people of the same gender. Love and attraction does not sexually transmit diseases. How can simply loving outside the confines of societal norms cause the spread of a STD?
In another case, the SCERT science textbook of Grade 10, states that AIDS is transmitted through ‘premarital and extramarital sexual contact’ because sex before marriage is, of course, uncultured and a sin.
How does it matter whether the people involved in the sexual activity are married or not? An STD spreads through unsafe sex, it doesn’t ask your marital status before afflicting you.
Apart from this, there has been another textbook spreading homophobic ideologies. The Gujarat State Board’s Physical Education textbook states that sexual activity involving a man and a woman, only, is a natural sex relation, while sexual activity involving the same gender is unnatural sexual activity. And guess why is it unnatural? Of course, because it causes AIDS. It says that people involved in ‘unnatural’ sexual relations keep changing their partners, increasing risk of STD.
After being blamed for a chronic, life threatening disease by curriculum textbooks, how are queer teenagers to accept themselves? They struggle with self hate and worry that no one will accept them because they are "wrong" and "unnatural" as perpetuated by these textbooks, all thanks to our Indian education system. High rape statistics in India is another crucial impact of lack of sex education.
To tackle these issues, and to eliminate the collective societal mortification that hails from discussing sex, the education system has to take huge steps. Education must not be biased or opinionated; it is supposed to present objective, indisputable facts. Authors shouldn’t share their opinions while writing textbooks, we have blogs for that. Textbooks are supposed to educate students and nurture them into independent thinkers, not to ostracize them and propagate age-old, baseless, abhorrent stereotypes. In order to protect the future generation from going through what we went through, this is a step highly necessary.
By taking steps in this direction, the education system can finally do what it was designed to: debunk harmful stereotypes, destigmatize sex, and create an accepting, and inclusive society.
Written by Aarya Jadhav
This article was written as part of a 3-part series in collaboration with Project Educating the Educators. ProjectETE is a community dedicated to ensuring that curriculum textbooks are fair, accurate, and unbiased. They believe that every student deserves access to high-quality, inclusive education that reflects the diversity of their experiences and the world around them.