LGBT campaign that won school an award suddenly turns illegal

Students of Tagore International School, Vasant Vihar, will remember judgment day as an anti-climax of sorts.

The school won the "national youth leader" award instituted by the Khemka Foundation for socially conscious leadership, on the back of a one-of-a-kind campaign for the LGBT community run by its students, beating schools from across South Asia.

On Wednesday, they were informed by their teachers about the Supreme Court ruling that upholds the section criminalising homosexuality.

"It's strange. A few days ago, we were felicitated for our efforts. Now, all of a sudden, what we are doing becomes

illegal. More than anything,

we are extremely shocked and upset at what has happened," Shivanee Sen, project mentor and assistant counsellor at the school, said.

The students had launched "Breaking Barriers", a campaign for the rights of LGBT members, when Safina Amin, one of the students, encountered a post on the school's confession page on Facebook. "I'm a lesbian and you can't understand me," the post proclaimed. "That set me thinking, and I realised it was true. I didn't know much about being lesbian or the LGBT community. Whatever little I knew was through television or internet. I imagined living my entire life without being understood. And then I decided to do something about it," she said. "The idea was simple to impart information about people with alternative genders and sexualities, create empathy and tolerance in students. The more we thought about it, the more sense it made, because the bullying, discrimination and harassment of LGBT individuals usually starts at the school level."

It would take the team of 25-odd students nine months to reach there. The group would do extensive research and engage with members of the community to understand their issues. They created presentations and showed it to family members to neighbours. Late in October, the students decided to spread awareness in schools across the capital by giving presentations in other schools, holding workshops and shooting films.

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