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Sukhnidh Kaur, a student of Psychology and Economics at St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, conducted an interesting survey on the homophobia faced by young school students.
India is far behind many other nations when it comes to its laws on homosexuality. A lot of our mythology contains LGBTQ+ characters and we have evidence to suggest that homosexuality was very much a part of “our culture” despite what some people might claim.
Yet, same sex marriage is still illegal and so is sex that goes “against the order of nature”. Never mind that these are laws that were influenced by the colonial era (based on Victorian ideas of morality) and the British themselves have let go of such laws. Thus, Sukhnidh Kaur’s survey is especially relevant for us now.
Her survey received 222 responses, and after she had cleaned the data (weeding out trolls, corrupt data, etc.), she was left with 180 cases from 10+ states.
The survey’s main focus was on the role of school authorities who perpetuate homophobia. As Sukhnidh Kaur says – “Homophobia in schools is largely unaddressed. Within schools, teachers, principals, vice principals and other administrative staff wield power and influence that can be, and is being, misused and exploited for the purpose of discrimination against LGBTQ+ students. These students find it difficult or even impossible to speak out for the fear of facing negative consequences from the school. My key objectives are to identify the scope and extent of this discrimination and to understand the impact on students.” She is now trying to find school authorities to interview so that she can understand their perspectives on the issue.
Sukhnidh felt compelled to do this survey because of the experiences of young school students who are still trying to figure out and settle into their sexual identities. She says, “Many of these students continue to face this discrimination and abuse silently. I undertook this research in an attempt to bring to light the problem of systematic homophobia in urban Indian schools and the complicity of school authorities, to make people more aware of the same and more proactive in bringing about reform.”
The results of the survey surprised her because the issue of homophobia in schools is far worse than she expected. She is currently writing a research paper on this issue and using the data collected for the same. She sincerely hopes that her work will eventually play at least a small part in inspiring the creation of guidelines to tackle homophobia in Indian schools.
This whole discussion was extremely enlightening for me. The horrific acts of abuse against queer students solidified Sukhnidh’s belief that we need a change in our attitudes. She wants to do her bit to help. And we should all follow her lead. Questioning the homophobia, we have internalised would be a good start.
Image sources: Sukhnidh Kaur and pixabay
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