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Row Over NLU-J Faculty Suggesting Study Materials Showing Homosexuality As 'Disorder'

Karan Tripathi
19 April 2020 7:45 AM GMT
Row Over NLU-J Faculty Suggesting Study Materials Showing Homosexuality As Disorder
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150 alumni of the National Law University, Jodhpur, have issued a joint statement in support of the representation made by college students against the study materials circulated by a faculty member which show homosexuality as a 'disorder' and an 'abnormality'

The statements says:

'We unequivocally condemn the action of Dr Asha Bhandari in prescribing as essential reading only regressive and discriminatory material, shorn of all context and critical analysis, that propagates prejudice and perpetuates entrenched stereotypes against LGBTQI individuals.'

On April 14, the Interim Student Body of NLU Jodhpur had made a representation before the Vice Chancellor seeking a corrigendum to be issued to the emails sent by Dr Asha Bhandari, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, for a fresh set of reading material for the module.

The students had also demanded a sensitization session for all faculty members on issues surrounding gender and sexuality.

The present matter pertains to emails sent by sociology professor Dr Bhandari, whereby certain study materials were shared which, according to the the students, are transphobic, 'one-sided', and 'inaccurate encapsulation of the idea of homosexuality.'

The study materials showed homosexuality as a 'sickness' which can be treated through institutional intervention. Students believe that such materials are antithetical to the fight that the LGBTQI community has been waging for years.

The ex-students termed these study materials "unscientific, uncritical" and as "based on outdated notions of homosexuality", and perpetuating "dangerous notions against the LGBTQ community" and legitimizing prejudice against them.

When a clarification was sought from the concerned professor, she replied by saying that her aim was to share different perspectives to encourage genuine debates on the subject.

The previous students have questioned the reason behind sharing the concerned material as the same was not part of the reference material set out in the curriculum shared with the students in the beginning of semester.

It also highlights that despite claiming that the said material was circulated to provide students with 'different perspectives and encouraging genuine debates', Dr Bhandari has till date not provided any material to the students which deals with sociological development around homosexuality which is non-stigmatising.

'The claims of providing different perspectives, is therefore self refuting, and results in students being presented with only the homophobic content', the statement claims.

While endorsing the demands made by the Interim Students Body in its representation, the statement highlights that the University has to strive to be free from all the bias, prejudice and intolerance of all kind, and faculty ought to be held to the highest standards of behaviour.

It further states that members of the faculty, who are in the position to exert influence over the students, are duty bound to ensure that legitimacy is not given to the expression of views which are discriminatory and which call into question very humanity and dignity of a section of a society.

'Teaching should be the last thing that exacerbates the stigma, self doubt of students who identify themselves with non-heteronormative sexual and gender identities in an already prejudicial environment', the statement claims.  

The alumni has demanded a probe against the professor and an external peer review of the course contents suggested.

They have also demanded to set up an 'effective anonymous feedback system' to ensure that the feedback of the students are given due consideration in updating the curriculum.

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