BENGALURU: Post Navtej judgement, students from the LGBTQ communities don’t feel the need to hide behind Section 377 anymore. Queer student groups are emerging as support spaces for students from LGBTQ communities in educational institutions. Members of these student groups are now appealing to the managements for their acceptance and recognition.
Approach of institutions
“Campuses are quite resistant to engage with conversations about queer issues. Even now, we are having to climb through gender sensitisation cells on campuses and cannot directly approach managements. However, post judgement, it has become a lot easier to start conversations about queer communities. Managements are forthcoming when approached for conducting orientation and sensitisation activities,” said Anirudh, gender and sexuality activist.
Suresh (name changed) said, “When it comes to the management of college, at least mine, they organised two panel discussions last year post the decriminalization of Sec 377. This year, one of the fest's theme was Pride. From what I've seen, their approach towards this hasn't been discriminatory.”
Prevalence of Queer Student groups
In a cis hetero normative society, being non-straight is considered as unacceptable, and few don't even know that people with such orientations exist.
A student from a renowned college, who didn’t wish to be named, said, “Queer groups, within and outside educational institutions play an important role in their lives. It provides a safe space for them to be themselves, be accepted, heard and understood. It also acts as a space for them to socialise with members of the community, which sometimes helps them to realize and shed any internalized stereotypes.”
‘Queer Space’ is an informal student group to create a forum of trust and comfort for queers. On the supportive environment of a renowned university, a Queer Space member said, “When we were planning to set up this forum, we had consulted two faculty members of our university. They were more than happy to support us from the time of its inception and were willing to act as our representatives.” Emphasizing the role of student groups as a platform for LGBTQ staff in institutions, Jayna Kothari, Senior Advocate and Executive Director of CLPR, said “The issue is also about LGBT staff. Institutions should be inclusive in all levels.”
Advocating an informed approach of institutions, Jayna Kothari added, “If students are LGBT and are out about it, especially those who are trans or gender non-conforming, then management should not restrict their clothing, etc. I know a lot of students who don’t dress the way they want because of the fear of acceptance. The least that management can do is to support these students.”
Student groups suggested the need for active engagement of gender sensitization cells in college/s to conduct regular programmes to sensitize students on gender and sexual orientations.
Dr. Priyanca Mathur of Jain College remarked, “When the family, community and society is still conservative it becomes even more imperative for educational institutions to play a pioneering role and set examples for others by giving the freedom of space and expression to alternative sexual identities.”...