In an attempt to gauge perceptions and opinions on homosexuality on campus, students at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay did an online survey on 600 students from the college, asking a range of questions.
The results, published in an article titled ‘Gay OK Please?‘ on their campus magazine Insight, are pretty varied. A big majority – 79% – of those surveyed said they were comfortable with an open LGBTQ culture on campus. An even larger section, 93%, said they don’t mind what LGBTQ students do in the privacy of their own rooms. But this apparent acceptance is in contrast with another number – 38% of the students surveyed (that’s two in five students) suggested a ‘cure’ for homosexuality. Even those conducting the survey were surprised by this number, given that the study was conducted in a premier science institution.
Only 21% of the respondents were okay with having a roommate who belonged to the LGBTQ community, while 46% said it would make them ‘strongly uncomfortable’. A third of the students also said they felt that homosexuality goes against their religion.
While a large 71% of the students agreed that LGBTQ couples can make good parents, 52% thought parents’ sexuality could have an impact on a child’s sexuality.
“There is a need to conduct gender sensitisation programmes in schools. Many of the students come from all-boys school and are not familiar with the concept of transgender, queer people. IIT-Bombay is one of the most liberal campuses. Though first or second year students may not be very comfortable with the idea of homosexuality, by the time these students graduate, their thought processes change,” one of the members of Insight told the Times of India.
A member of Saathi, an LGBTQ resource group on the IIT Bombay campus, was unsurprised at the results. “Students come from different sections of the society and one cannot expect all the 9,000 students to have similar opinions. Their misconceptions are not because they are prejudiced against the LGBTQ community, but due to their lack of awareness. We are somewhat successful in bringing about a positive change, but we are trying to reach out to many others. About 50% of the activists working with Saathi do not belong to the LGBTQ community,” the student told Times of India.