Hospitality and tourism are thriving areas in many parts of the world. Hospitality schools give those interested in the field the ability to pursue their passions, gain experience, and connect with others while learning and growing their professional and personal selves.
In India, there are a number of hospitality schools, but one in particular is doing amazing work for the LGBTQ+ community.
The LaLiT Suri Hospitality School
The LaLiTSuri Hospitality School has been and continues to take actions to uplift the LGBTQ+ community. Located in Faridabad, Haryana, the school has been running since 2013, and each year it expands and improves upon itself.
Their Executive Director, Keshav Suri, strives to create opportunities for the LGBTQ+ community, and help students in the community thrive. The LaLiT Suri Hospitality School first opened up scholarships for LGBTQ+ students in 2019 and they grant recipients money to go to the school.
“Education is a basic fundamental right and very important to lead a dignified life. I want to support my community to stand on their feet and I am confident that the Aditya Nanda Scholarship will help them with a respectable living. This helps remove phobia that is prevalent in society about transgender persons and other members of my community. I am so proud that this scholarship has changed the lives of a few people already who are now part of our team at The LaLiT. This initiative is not just creating hoteliers but is also sensitizing and building other inclusive hoteliers for the larger hospitality industry,” said Keshav Suri, Executive Director, The LaLiT Suri Hospitality Group
Since 2019, there have been 10 recipients of the scholarships. 5 of them are transgender and the other 5 are also in the LGBTQ+ community. There is a 100% work placement program for these recipients.
Graduated in 2021, Zayn, a transman, works as Food and Beverage Service Associate at The LaLiT New Delhi. He says, “For me, this scholarship happened when I had no support from anyone. I was homeless as well as jobless. This scholarship supported me with not just education but also with accommodation in a place where I was not judged for who I am. The campus accepted all of us scholarship students with open arms and ensured a safe space to learn and grow. I emerged as Topper of my batch too. I’ll always be thankful to Keshav Suri Foundation and The LaLiT Suri Hospitality School for creating this opportunity for us and supporting our dreams”.
David, who is pursuing his Diploma in Bakery through this scholarship this year, feels that “College is like a home away from home for me where my abilities and talent are nurtured and I’m given every possible support to reach my potential. The faculty and the students treat us no different and I am grateful for the opportunity and the space created for people like me and my community. The contribution that this school is making in my life will always be remembered and I’ll always be grateful for it”.
Mr. Vimal Kumar, Principal, The LaLiT Suri Hospitality School says, “We are an all-inclusive school where we always strive to ensure students from all walks of life feel safe and accepted. Our faculty and students are sensitized regularly through various sessions and community engagement activities. This scholarship program is a step towards ensuring a seat for deserving candidates from the LGBTQIA+ community, who otherwise have had no easy access to education. It is a great learning opportunity and a larger social responsibility to stand with and support each other to reach our potential. That is what our aim through this scholarship is.”
Further LGBTQ+ Support
Being gay was not decriminalized in India until 2018, but this school has been creating these policies and opportunities for queer students since before the LGBTQ+ identity was decriminalized. Beginning in 2016, The Lalit Suri Hospitality School has supported the LBTQ+ community.
Their school has gender neutral bathrooms and prioritizes diversity in all forms. There are also resource groups available for the students covering a wide variety of different forms of diversity and intersectionality.
The LaLiT Hospitality Group hotels all have resource groups and boards as well. They make sure to have at least one trans person on every board, in every city, with a resource group.
They also partner with 200 different community organizations that emphasize diversity for different identities and backgrounds.
Uplifting the LGBTQ+ community on the professional side of hospitality gives queer people more opportunities to do what they love in a country where being gay was a crime until only five years ago.
Having LGBTQ+ folks involved on the boards and in the resource groups for employees helps to guarantee that these establishments will continue to gain education and experience with the LGBTQ+ community, keeping up to date on best practices and how to be welcoming to all.
In addition to helping LGBTQ+ people that want to pursue hospitality, having queer people in hospitality makes for better stays as a queer person. They’re able to then stay at hotels that will treat them with the courtesy and respect they deserve, making it one less thing to have to worry about while taking a trip.
This school is doing amazing work for those local and beyond. We’re excited to see how they continue to grow and shape the community.