Positive Space program expands into residences
Beckham Ronaghan recognized the need for a positive space in residences where students can discuss sexual and gender diversity, while facilitating Positive Space Program information sessions last year. The result is THINQ, a new program geared for first-year students.
“During and after the workshops, I really saw the wheels turning in some students’ heads as they thought about these issues for the first time,” says Mr. Ronaghan, a residence don and fourth-year Gender Studies student. “A few people approached me after the workshops, thanked me and asked for more resources. I feel the program can be a real benefit for students who might not be out to their floor mates.”
Mr. Ronaghan is the recipient of this year’s OPIRG Positive Space Award, in part for his development of the THINQ program. He designed the 90-minute THINQ workshops to give people tools for combating homophobia, transphobia and biphobia. Several discussion workshops have already occurred in residences.
He is also working with the Gender Studies’ curriculum review committee to incorporate more trans scholarship. He co-directed Down There, a revised and expanded version of The Vagina Monologues that explored issues of sexuality, gender identity, and sexual violence. Down There and other events put on by the Women’s Empowerment Committee raised over $11,000 for local women’s shelters and the Sexual Assault Centre Kingston.
The Positive Space Program, which supported THINQ this year, encourages welcoming and inclusive environments on campus for all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. Since the program’s inception 13 year ago, over 800 people have attended information sessions and positive space stickers have appeared at entrances to work, living and study areas across campus.
“There have been subtle changes to the Positive Space Program over the years,” says program co-ordinator Jean Pfleiderer. “While there is still a need to support individuals, an increasingly positive climate makes it possible to truly celebrate the sexual and gender diversity of our campus.”
The OPIRG Positive Space Award was created in 1999 to mark the 10th anniversary of the program.
More information about the Positive Space Program can be found online.