In what seems like an extremely confusing move, authorities at Kamala Girls' School in Kolkata decided to discipline its students with a form of punishment we've never seen before. Last Thursday, ten students were made to sign an objectionable 'confession' letter that said "I am a lesbian". When they found out, the parents of the girls, obviously, did not approve of this sort of punishment and strongly objected to it in front of the acting headmistress. While the parents blamed the school for threatening the students to sign the confession, the school said the move was to get the students back on "the right course".
This is what a school official, on the condition of anonymity, had to say "It was a simple act of disciplining the students. They were being naughty in class so they were called into the office of the headmistress and were made to sign a confession. The parents were called to sort out the matter and have a discussion but they overreacted saying their girls were forced to sign it. They probably thought this was similar to the sexual assault case that happened in February and that we were at fault. We have given back the signed letters to the parents."
#Breaking: "Will not inculcate the idea of lesbianism in schools. It is against Bengal culture", says State Education Minister Partha Chatterjee, on Kamala Girls' School incident where 12 students were threatened with expulsion for displaying "lesbian behaviour" @TheQuint pic.twitter.com/FkTejloJPM
— Ishadrita Lahiri (@ishadrita) March 14, 2018
The headmistress at the time, Sikha Sarkar, claimed that a few classmates had complained about these particular students indulging in "such behaviour". She said to a news agency "We called those students and they admitted it. Considering the sensitive nature of the issue, I asked them to admit it in writing. I have got written admissions from all 10 students. Today we called the guardians to apprise them of the issue. Our aim was to discuss the matter with them so that we can bring these girls on the right course through efforts both at home and in school."
13-year old doesn't know meaning of lesbian. Those who wrote it were forced to do so by school. This is being done to suppress molestation case on one of their employees: Victim's father on students allegedly made to write they are lesbians by Kamala Girls' school #Kolkata pic.twitter.com/ZweRv6yfkw
— ANI (@ANI) March 14, 2018
Okay, so first things first, are you seeing the same flaws in the school's argument as I am? Based on a complaint by other students, the school forced these ten students to sign confession letters. Was there even an enquiry about whether there was any truth to the complaint?
Parents were called, and they were rightfully enraged that their kids were made to go through that.
This is appalling. Kamala Girls' School, you need to get your act together, do better, and kick homophobia out of your curriculum.
— Sukhnidh (@skhndh) March 14, 2018
Second, let's say that these girls are exploring their sexuality and have realised that they may like girls better. In that case, the school should have provided them with counselling and help instead of handing out such an insensitive punishment.
The school's move does not come as a surprise to the alumni. Sayantani Roy, who passed out from the school in 2006 admitted that the school looked down upon "intense friendships between girls". She also added that "It’s not just this school. The whole atmosphere in traditional girls school is very oppressive. I remember we had a teacher who would take it upon herself to scold us if we displayed even a tiny bit of affection to our classmates. The term 'lesbian' was flung around like it’s a swear word."
No matter how hard I try to understand their reasoning, this sort of behaviour from an established school baffles me. In a school with only girls, who do they think the girls will become friends with? And as a supporter of strong female friendships, can I just add that we've already been given enough reasons to hate each other, without the school labelling friendship as a sin too.