This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Vidhipssa Mohan. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

LGBTQ Students At Kamala Nehru College Share The Support They Receive On Campus

More from Vidhipssa Mohan

By Vidhipssa Mohan:

College is the time when one gets to explore themselves and their sexuality. Students meet new people which helps them learn things about themselves that they didn’t know before. They learn about the different facets of life through teachers as well as through their peers. Many discover that they have non-binary gender identities and gather the courage to come out as well. This is why it’s imperative for every college to provide a safe and inclusive space for all students. I spoke to a few students from the LGBTQ community from my college, Kamala Nehru College, to find out if they feel the college is inclusive or not.

Kamala Nehru College has helped me grow into a confident woman who is ready to fight for her rights,” says Tanya*, a third-year literature student, with a non-normative gender identity. Tanya struggled a lot while accepting her sexuality. She says what helped her was how the teachers in her college here celebrated when a student came out of the closet. Her department, the English department, once created and displayed a world map with arrows pointing towards pictures of renowned authors with non-normative identities from around the world – Oscar Wilde, Vikram Seth, etc. It may just be a notice board to some, but it really moved Tanya. For her, the department had successfully assured her that it is okay to not be what our patriarchal society expects us to be. She says, “When some of the greatest authors of all time accept their sexuality despite all the struggles, you feel happy.”

Mansi*, another final year student, identified herself as lesbian since she was in school. However, she never had the confidence to publicly acknowledge her gender identity. This was partly because the people who knew about her identity used to insult her and that always got to her. But now, two years as a student of KNC, and her Instagram bio reads, “your happy queer kid.” I asked her how she grew a thick skin all of a sudden and overcame her inhibition. She told me it took her a lot of time and help from her teachers. Once, after getting tired of all the insults and jibes, she went to a teacher for help. The teacher not only advised her how to deal with such comments but also told her how she herself identified as someone who was non-normative. Rarely, do teachers share their personal lives with students. However, this teacher drew on her own experiences and did everything she could to make Mansi feel comfortable and at ease. The teacher told her, “It will be hard. Some people will ostracise you for who you are. But then, there will be others, who will support you no matter what.”

Namita*, a psychology student from the college, struggled to discover her identity as well. When she finally decided to come out to her friends, she had expected them to laugh at her. Instead, they understood and supported her. Through her friends, she met more people from the queer community. Being with them, and listening to the stories of other members and learning from them, made her feel empowered. Priya* is another student with a similar story. She was confused about her identity for a while and that phase was very difficult for her. She elaborates, “I always thought there was something wrong with me. I used to call myself an asexual since I just couldn’t bring myself to date. But in college, I slowly came to realise that I was in fact, not an asexual. But I also realised that I wasn’t heterosexual either. “My college friends deserve credit for supporting me when I was discovering myself.”

Wide Angle, the film society of the college, also tried to spread awareness about the horrible impact of homophobia in campus spaces by screening the movie “Aligarh”. This helped the students gain a better understanding of the struggles that people from the LGBTQ community face. From childhood, most of us are conditioned to be homophobic – especially, with the kind of environment that primary and secondary education institutions have and the general lack of comprehensive sexual education in these institutions. KNC’s inclusive atmosphere has altered the opinions of many students who had grown up in a homophobic environment and had internalised stereotypes and prejudices against the LGBTQ community. A student, who doesn’t wish to disclose her identity, shares her view. “People are brainwashed into thinking that belonging to the LGBTQ community is morally wrong. Our patriarchal society often uses holy scriptures and religious texts to prove the same. But this is what education is for, to undo such brainwashing.”

However, it cannot be ignored that despite creating what seems like an inclusive social environment, the college lacks an LGBTQ support group, as do most other colleges of our country. People who don’t conform to gender stereotypes and people with non-binary gender identities are shunned by our society. They receive hate from friends, parents, relatives and even strangers – this is partly why the LGBTQ community’s fight for equality is not just about legal rights, but just as much about social acceptance. We need to take part in this fight and do our bit to try to liberate people from their inherent prejudices. We need to support the LGBTQ community and their cause. And from my conversations with students from KNC, I feel students and teachers of Kamala Nehru College are trying to do just that.

*name changed


Image source: Facebook
You must be to comment.

More from Vidhipssa Mohan

Similar Posts

By Abhishek Verma

By AYA As You Are

By Imran Khan

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below