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MIT Sloan student forms LGBT India Foundation

Aims to spark national conversation about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.
More than 30 million Indian citizens identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. Marginalized in most all elements of Indian society, there’s a large and immediate need to push for greater equality on a national scale. The LGBT India Foundation aims to do just that.

Nitin Rao, an MIT Sloan School of Management graduate student and TED Fellow, hatched the idea for the foundation in response to a particularly startling "white space" among the LGBT rights terrain in India. While there’s been recent legal victories decriminalizing homosexuality and notable grassroots activism stirring across the country, there’s little being done at the institutional level — India’s college and workplace settings.

The foundation aims to spark a national conversation in India by engaging institutions directly: Working with corporations to develop workplace "safe spaces"; sponsoring entrepreneurial initiatives focused on LGBT issues at colleges; launching high-profile social media campaigns; and discussing the LGBT equality at public events such as TED. In addition, it aims to create a much-needed online resource center for LGBT individuals seeking accessible and credible information on sexuality.

Its international advisory board is a first and strong signal of institutional support, comprised of senior executives from Goldman Sachs, Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey & Co., and TED.

The MIT Sloan MBA, Fellows, MSMS and MFin classes have selected the LGBT India Foundation as the partner charity to benefit from proceeds of the Class of 2011 Charity Auction on the evening of Dec. 9 at Walker Memorial. This selection was based on enthusiastic recommendations from across the student body, and is widely seen as a big step in building greater visibility and support for the LGBT community at MIT.

With India becoming a key source of global talent with the largest young LGBT population in the world, the foundation sees an enormous opportunity to bring gay and straight Indians together to form one progressive community, accelerating the pace of social change.

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