LGBTQ advocates call 1st Islamic school for transgender students in Bangladesh a “positive step,” but not enough

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11/17/2020

The first madrassa, or Islamic school, specifically for transgender students in Bangladesh opened last week in the capital city of Dhaka. It was a first not only in the country, but across South Asia, and experts and rights advocates say it could help a marginalized community feel more welcome, while also challenging perceptions of madrassas in the region. More than 40 students from Bangladesh’s “hijra” or “third gender” community have already enrolled in the privately funded Dawatul Quran Third Gender Madrasa, where they will get a free Islamic education. The school, housed on the second floor of a small building in western Dhaka, has room for more than 100 students. “Everyone has been very responsive, appreciative and accepting of our initiative to teach the Quran to hijra community members,” Abdur Rahman Azad, the madrassa’s founder, told CBS News. “We have received many phone calls, hijra leaders have called us to ask if we would teach the members of their community.” Students will be taught the Quran and Arabic language in primary classes, but the madrassa will also teach other languages including English and Bangla, plus other electives in senior classes.

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