Exclusive: Gender neutral washrooms, LGBTQ+ friendly constitution on cards for TISS Mumbai

Exclusive: Gender neutral washrooms, LGBTQ+ friendly constitution on cards for TISS Mumbai

This step comes in as a huge relief for members of the queer community at TISS who often have to walk back to their hostels every time they feel the need to use a washroom.

Aditi AlurkarUpdated: Wednesday, April 12, 2023, 12:25 AM IST
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File | In another stride towards inclusivity, there is also a discussion in progress for the rephrasing of the institute's student constitution which currently only uses two pronouns, ‘he‘ and ‘she.’

Mumbai: After becoming the first educational institute in the country to start queer friendly hostels in 2018, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai is now all set to have gender neutral bathrooms. According to the TISS Students' Union, after a series of discussions, it formally put up the concept today (April 11, 2023) to the authorities. The highlight of the new gesture will be refurbishment of some of the washrooms, (one the old campus and one in the new campus) into a gender neutral facility which could be used by all students.

"All students will be free to walk into these washrooms, no matter which gender they identify with. We also trying to install grab bars so students who are disabled can make use of it," confirmed Pratik Permey, the first gender fluid tribal Students' Union President at TISS Mumbai.

To be filled with empowering posters and encouraging quotes, these gender neutral bathrooms have been planned for the School of Social Sciences building of the old campus and the canteen on the new campus. This step comes in as a huge relief for members of the queer community at TISS who often have to walk back to their hostels every time they feel the need to use a washroom. And these hostel washrooms, are not always accessible to those students who do not live on campus and are day scholars.

"Initially, men were uncomfortable whenever I used their washroom since I dress 'differently' and I was afraid that women would freak out if I walked into theirs. Eventually I made friends who helped me adjust to the system at TISS, but it still does not solve the problem for all the new or daytime queer students," said Permey, who had also taken several long walks between the two campuses, just to use a washroom. Currently, as many as eight students occupy the queer students' hostel at TISS, which has a capacity of twenty.

In another stride towards inclusivity, there is also a discussion in progress for the rephrasing of the institute's student constitution which only uses two pronouns, ‘he‘ and ‘she.’ Written for the students and by the students, the constitution outlines all the powers of the union and its members. While this move is gaining popularity and momentum at a fast pace, students say a meeting is to be set up with law and order experts in order to make the correct observations and corrections.

The Free Press Journal spoke to Prof Asha Banu Soletti. Dean - Students' Affairs who said the issue is being looked at.

Students are already upbeat with the impending changes and happy that the institute is trying to embrace inclusivity. Meanwhile new designs for the bathrooms have already been chalked out.

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