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9 Incredible Schools And Colleges In India With In-Campus LGBT Support Groups

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By Harish Iyer:

We spend most of our time either at work or at school. Truth be told, we get home mostly only to sleep or to have an occasional vacation with family. It, therefore, becomes extremely important that our second family – which comprises of school authorities, college staff, bosses and colleagues are helpful. Well, that also helps in bringing down cases of abuse and suicide. The very thought that you will not be judged for who you are or who you love is a welcome relief. What more do you need at a time when your hormones are doing a disco and tango in full swing.

School and college time is the time for major crushes, identity evaluation and all that goes with it. One needs to be assured of the best support in campus, as much as at home. Here is a list of some remarkable educational institutions which have gender/sexuality support groups.

Tagore International School

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Tagore international school is one of the premier schools in Delhi. This is substantiated by the fact that they have a very active LGBTIQ support group that blogs, tweets, organises events, and even walks the pride. ‘Breaking Barriers’ is the name of the group. Quite literally so.

Active Group : Breaking Barriers.
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/breakingbarriers.tis/
Contact : breakingbarriers.tis@gmail.com
Contact person : Gaurav Kumar

Jawaharlal Nehru University

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Dhanak is the queer group from JNU that is active in sharing important information, debates, hosting events all to keep the conversation afloat. Dhanak means ‘rainbow’ wherein seven colours stand for a multiplicity of identities—queer identities, to be precise.

Active Group : Dhanak
Contact : dhanakaqueergroup@gmail.com

IIT Bombay

saathi

Goes without saying, they are one of the most proactive groups when it comes to LGBTIQ advocacy by an institute. Besides organising events in their campus, they come up with regular events and YouTube series to cut across linguistic barriers.

Active Group : Saathi
Facebook : https://www.fb.com/saathi.iitb/
Contact : saathi.iitbombay@gmail.com

IIT Kharagpur

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The sprawling campus of IIT Kharagpur is bustling with energy. They have a very active LGBT group called ‘Ambar’. Ambar has hosted queer film festivals and has also invited the queer community for interactions with the student community.

Active Group : Ambar
Contact : Click here for the contact form

IIT Roorkee

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QAGAAR (Queer And Gender Advancement Alliance Roorkee) is the queer and gender support group in IIT Roorkee. “Come join us as we stand on the verge of a promising future,” reads their Facebook page.

Active Group : Qagaar
Contact : Unavailable

IIT Gandhinagar

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Orenda at IIT Gandhinagar aims to achieve an all-inclusive campus for people of different identities that fall on the gender and sexuality spectrum. Orenda means a supernatural force believed by the Iroquois Indians to be present, in varying degrees, in all objects or persons, and to be the spiritual force by which human accomplishment is attained or accounted for.

Active Group : Orendra – Gender and Sexuality Club
Contact : orenda.iitgn@gmail.com

IIT Delhi

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Indradhanu is the Sexuality And Gender Diversity Support Group of Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi that is committed to serving the needs of LGBT community and questioning students by creating a “positive space” for LGBTQ people to discover and come to terms with themselves in a safe, comforting and confidential environment.

Active Group : Indradhanu
Facebook : www.fb.com/IndradhanuIITD/
Contact : Click here to fill the contact form

BITS Pilani

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Anchor is BITS Pilani’s initiative for starting the dialogue on sexuality. Their motto on their Facebook page summarises the intent of the group – “Here’s hoping that this small effort will create a difference; with the realization that if this forum helps even one person in any which way, we can all revel in the joy of setting ourselves on this daunting task of changing the mindsets of thousands of students and faculty and consider it a job well done.”

Active Group: Anchor
Contact : AnchorAtBITS@gmail.com

IISc Bangalore

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IISc Bangalore has a support group called QUASI (Queer and Straights at IISc). It’s a tight-knit lot comprising of undergraduate, Masters and Ph.D. students of the Institute. QUASI aims to serve as a platform for raising awareness about sexual and gender diversity as well as for providing a support network for sexual and gender minorities in IISc. QUASI is an extension of the group ‘Queer IISc’ to its straight allies and they welcome participation from the larger community at IISc and neighbouring institutes such as NIAS, JNCASR and NCBS.

Active Group: QUASI
Contact: quasi.iisc@gmail.com

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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