Kerala Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) general secretary PMA Salam on Friday stirred a controversy after he claimed it is “dangerous” to have boys and girls sit beside each other in schools and would “deviate” them from studies, according to reports.
Criticising Kerala’s stance on gender-neutral education, he said, “It is dangerous. What is the need for girls and boys to sit together in classrooms? Why are you forcing them or creating such opportunities? It will only cause problems.” “Students will deviate from studies,” Salam was quoted as saying by India Today.
He further said that gender neutrality was not a religious issue but a moral one. “Gender neutrality is not a religious issue; it is a moral issue. I am against the attempt to bring in liberalism. Efforts are being made to impose gender-neutral uniforms,” he said.
The statement came after Kerala Education minister and CPI(M) leader V Sivankutty said a decision to impose gender-neutral uniforms in state schools is yet to be decided. While the issue received debates among Muslim organisations, the state government gender-neutral uniforms have been voluntarily implemented by the management in certain schools and have been wholeheartedly welcomed by the public and the media.
“It is understood that there are no complaints either from children or from parents in those schools that have implemented such a decision,” the minister said adding the government is not “insistent in implementing this.” Sivankutty said, “We have not taken the decision to impose any specific uniform code in schools.”
The LDF government has decided to turn all single-sex schools in the state to co-educational institutions with regard to a recent order by the state child rights panel. The state has converted 21 educational institutions into mixed schools.