"If you judge people, you have no time to love them"- Mother Teresa
In India, the LGBTQ community is looked down upon and marginalized due to people's attitudes and (until recently) a set of outdated laws. As a result, people are forced to live their lives in secrecy and hide their true identities.
Being deeply shaken up by such attitude of people, Aishani Aggarwal, a DP 1 students of Pathways School Gurgaon decided to be the change she wanted from people in the society she is a part of. She developed POL- Pride Out Loud which is a social awareness campaign aimed at re-adjusting attitudes toward LGTBQ communities in Delhi by addressing the need for LGBTQ media representation among youth demographics. She took it up as part of her MYP project at The Pathways School, Gurgaon. Her journey started by filing a petition to revoke Section 377 of the Indian Constitution, which criminalizes homosexuality.
Through conversations, she had with peers and family members, she realized that while a change in the law would be ideal, she first needed to start changing attitudes. Through Pride Out Loud, she created discussion platforms for teenagers in Delhi who identify with or are allies of the LGBTQ community. She created Social Media platforms for students to voice their thoughts, but realized that this was not enough– the 6th September 2018 revoking of Section 377 notwithstanding- she felt that there were too many negative perceptions and stigmas associated with openly discussing their sexuality.
She then began volunteering at the NAZ foundation, an NGO working towards supporting individuals and families who suffer from HIV/AIDS, as well as other sexually transmitted diseases. She worked with the children of impacted families, and realized that even at the NAZ foundation, there was no teaching or learning material to expose and introduce children to realities around them (it is important for children to see their reality reflected to them through the literature that is available and used in the classroom).
Pride Out Loud is currently creating a series of children books to introduce and familiarize students to the LGBTQ community in India, ultimately hoping to change attitudes (and eventually policies) towards issues of gender and sexuality. Two books in the series are already in circulation- "The Bake Off" and "The School Dance".
Recently, Aishani has won Silver medal in the "Individual Category" of The Pramerica Spirit of Community Award 2019. The 'Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards' is an annual nationwide search to identify and recognize school students who have made a positive difference in their communities through volunteer community service.
We Feel Excited to let everyone know that she will be competing for a Gold medal in the same category in their upcoming event on 30th March, 2019 I Delhi. We wish Aishani all the very best for this as well as all her future aspirations for this initiative of hers.