Pride@XL: Queering India’s Oldest B-School One Step at a Time
XLRI’s student’s interest group, Pride@XL is empowering individuals, raising awareness about LGBTQIA+ issues, and fostering a more inclusive and welcoming campus culture.
One of India’s oldest business schools, XLRI has been a pioneer in human resource management; and has been the cradle to stellar business leaders for the past 75 years. Earlier this year, they took a momentous step towards fostering inclusivity and acceptance for the LGBTQIA+ community by officiating Pride@XL as a student’s interest group. It was formed after a collective realisation of the need for a platform dedicated to the LGBTQIA+ community in order to create an inclusive and equitable educational environment. It was also created to empower individuals, raise awareness about LGBTQIA+ issues, and foster a more inclusive and welcoming campus culture.
To appreciate the significance of Pride@XL's mission, it's crucial to understand the challenges faced by the LGBTQIA+ community. The acronym represents a diverse group of individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, or any other non-heteronormative sexual orientation or gender identity.
Despite the significant progress made in recent years, LGBTQIA+ individuals continue to encounter various forms of discrimination and prejudice. Many individuals face rejection from their families and often discrimination in educational institutions or workplaces.
A 2021 report titled “Fostering Pride in Higher Education”, authored by researchers from IIM Ahmedabad and BCG, shows that 64% queer students who were out, faced discrimination on Indian campuses. The report also noted that queer students were more likely to come out, if their campuses had support groups for them.
Pride@XL was started by students in 2020 to cater to a similar need. Today it has become a community of over 100 individuals who are committed to making XLRI an inclusive campus for people from all sexual orientations and gender identities. Ronak Borana, the current secretary of the club believes, "A rainbow flag anywhere is a sign of hope and solidarity for queer people everywhere. This is also what we want from Pride@XL. We want queer MBA students to know that people like them exist everywhere and we will have their back no matter what".
Adding to that, the club’s faculty coordinator, Prof Giridhar Ramachandran said, “Pride@XL came after the dedicated and persistent efforts of passionate students from the past two batches, who successfully highlighted the importance of having such a chapter in a business school environment, where students will soon step into diverse professional worlds,”
“The formation of this club marks a significant step towards fostering an inclusive and supportive atmosphere for all our students,” she added.
This year, Pride@XL has partnered with major organisations and corporate firms. They participated in Tata Steel’s case competition, Queerious 2 – mesmerising the crowd with violin performances. They also conducted Pride Nights and other sensitisation and awareness programmes for 600+ students on campus. For their future plan, Pride@XL intends to host their first annual flagship event in November and to eventually start a podcast on queer identities.
Pride@XL has been making strides in creating a more inclusive and empathetic campus community. However, the journey doesn’t stop there. The road to true inclusivity is ongoing and the club continues to expand its reach beyond XLRI. Pride@XL has continually sought impactful partnerships with other queer organisations.
Souvik from Jamshedpur Queer Circle (JQC) shared his contentment with such partnerships. saying “The partnership between Pride@XL and Jamshedpur Queer Circle (JQC) holds immense significance in the pursuit of LGBTQ rights and leadership development in Jharkhand. This collaboration can benefit the LGBTQ community by providing access to educational and leadership opportunities, fostering a more inclusive environment within XLRI, and amplifying the message of acceptance and equality in Jharkhand.”
The LGBTQ movement in the region stands to gain increased visibility, awareness, and the potential for long-lasting change, making this partnership a powerful catalyst for progress and empowerment,” he added.
Pride@XL hopes that the community they have created continues to grow and motivate other institutions to create similar safe spaces for queer individuals. Pride@XL team can be contacted at [email protected] for collaborations. More information about them can be found at pride.xlri.ac.in and their instagram page at @prideatxl.