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How comfortable are IIT-B students with LGBTQs on campus?

On the face of it, IIT-B students were accepting of the LGBTQ community. But detailed questions on how they viewed the community showed bias, the institute’s in-house magazine said

mumbai Updated: Oct 04, 2016 12:24 IST
Shreya Bhandary
Shreya Bhandary
Hindustan Times
IIT-B,LGBTQs on campus,LGBTQ
The survey shows most students accepted LGBTQs on the face of it, but there was a lot of negative bias when it came to sharing rooms or even the dinner table. (HT File)

How comfortable are IIT-B students with the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community on campus? A recent survey showed 79% were open to the culture. But would they share a room with someone from the community, or fight for the rights of LGBTQs? A large number said no or remained neutral.

The findings are part of a survey conducted on the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) campus to gauge the acceptance LGBTQs have on campus. It was published in the institute’s in-house magazine, Insight.

“The results of the survey show that people empathise with the LGBTQ community, but they loathe to actually go and help the afflicted community fight for their rights,” the article states.

While there was acceptance, the survey revealed some opposing views as well: 37% believed homosexuality was against their religion, while 38% students advised a medical cure for this “problem”. Fifty-two percent believed exposure to a person from the LGBTQ community affects the sexuality of a child, 39% IIT-B respondents said they wouldn’t want their child to be taught by a member of the community.

When the survey questioned students about their views on the personal lives of LGBTQs on campus, 93% respondents said they don’t mind what people do in the privacy of their bedrooms, but another 46% said they will be uncomfortable having roommates who are homosexual.

“We have an LGBTQ resource group called Saathi functioning on campus. While a majority seem very accepting of us, we also know of fellow students who don’t share the same dinner table with us. The bias is sometimes very blatant,” said a member of Saathi, not wishing to be named.

Ninety-two percent respondents said they would support the community, or took a neutral stand. But only 59% agreed to raise their own voice to fight for the community’s rights.

The survey, say students, not only reflects the stand of students on campus, but the society at large.

“Unless we cut the sugar-coating and actually take active steps to make LGBTQ people feel included, no long-lasting change can take place. Given that the survey was carried out in this institute – which boasts of housing the most progressive individuals from the country, the results obtained are reflective of Indian society at best – and disturbing at worst,” the article states.

First Published: Oct 04, 2016 12:24 IST