A group of transgender students at Ratchasima Witthayalai School talk to reporters Friday

KORAT — A public school director in the northeast said a secret survey asking teachers to identify which students were transgender was for their own good.

Administrators at the all-boys Ratchasima Witthayalai School in Korat came under fire after the form, which asked teachers to secretly list their “sexually deviant” students, ended up going viral on social media, where many commented that the label was archaic and offensive.

School director Boonlert Puangpetch said the effort was misunderstood and insisted transgender students do not suffer discrimination at his school.

According to Boonlert, the school’s intention was to gather statistics about transgender students, and the survey was kept secret to respect student privacy.

“We wanted to know how many there are,” Boonlert said by telephone. “It’s for when we organize workshops and lectures … about how to take care of their health and about sex ed.”

The image appeared Thursday on Facebook page “Queen of Spades,” an online clearinghouse for controversies and alleged malfeasance by officials.

“Because the student assistance department of the human resources administration will organize training for sexually deviant students in order to adjust their behavior in accordance with Ratchasima Witthayalai School, we kindly ask for cooperation from advisor teachers to inspect students in their class who show sexually deviant behavior (keep it secret).” the letter reads.

It drew many negative comments for its insensitive language, particularly the use of “sexually deviants,” to describe transgender students.

In Friday’s phone interview, Boonlert conceded the term might have been inappropriate. He said the teacher in charge of the form might have borrowed it from a seminar about gender without thinking about its implications.

“I have been thinking about these words myself,” Boonlert said. “The teacher might have lifted it directly and used it in the survey. So it creates a negative feeling. When you listen to that word, it’s rude.”

He said transgender students at Ratchasima Witthayalai School are free to express themselves as long as they obey school regulations, such as keeping their hair short and not wearing makeup.

Speaking to a reporter today, two trans students said they didn’t feel any discrimination at the school. “I feel the school’s always been supportive of me,” an unnamed high school senior said.

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