About the Research Programme

A Qualitative Study to Understand the Experiences of Queer Students During their School Lives in India

The Supreme Court of India has through its judgments in the case of Suresh Kumar Koushal and Anr. v. Naz Foundation and Others (Civil Appeal No. 10972 of 2013) and National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India and Others (Writ Petition (Civil) No. 400/2012), laid down that everyone has a fundamental right to their gender identity and sexual orientation and no one can be discriminated against on the basis of the same.

“Discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation and gender identity, therefore, impairs equality before the law and equal protection of law and violates Article 14 of the Constitution of India.” National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India and Others (Writ Petition (Civil) No. 400/2012) para 55, page 62.
“It is relevant to mention here that the Section 377, I.P.C. does not criminalize a particular people or identity or orientation.”Suresh Kumar Koushal and Anr. v. Naz Foundation and Others (Civil Appeal No. 10972 of 2013) para 38, page 77.

In the light of this right against discrimination recognized by the Supreme Court, I undertook a study to understand the school experiences of students who are queer. Queer means different. When used in connection with sexuality, it means those whose sexual orientation or gender identity is different from what society considers normal. The term queer includes, but is not limited to, persons who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Hijra, MSM, Kothi, Panthi, Giriya, Khush, Aravani, Thirunangi, Jogappa,  Jogta, Shiv-Shakti and more. It also includes persons who do not wish to associate with any label.

Studies worldwide have shown that students who are, or are perceived to be, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender face widespread discrimination and hostility in schools. They have a lesser sense of belonging to their schools, are harassed by their teachers and peers, excluded from activities and are verbally, physically or sexually abused.

However, these studies have been conducted in other countries and there is very little understanding of the experiences of queer students in Indian schools. This research aims to bridge this gap through a participatory approach and with the help of persons who identify as queer. The findings of this study will be used to further a more enriching environment in schools. This research was supported by the IASSCS Emerging Scholars’ International Research Fellowship. This project has since won the John Collins Social Action Bursary of the Oriel College, Oxford, in 2017