Frequently Asked Questions

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What is a Positive Space Program?

A Positive Space program brings visibility and support to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans individuals. A Positive Space indicator (sticker) on an office door, workspace, or living space identifies the occupant as accepting and being supportive of these communities.

Participants in the program answer questions, provide assistance, suggest resources, and refer individuals to appropriate offices and services. Positive Space campaigns have been established at other universities (University of Toronto, University of Calgary, and York University).

Three groups sponsor the Queen's program: OPIRG Kingston, the Human Rights Office, and the Education on Queer Issues Project (EQUIP).

Why is a Positive Space Program needed?

For many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans students, staff, and faculty, university life provides an important opportunity to "come out." This can be a difficult and confusing time, especially if they do not have anyone to whom they can talk or do not know the groups and resources that are available.

Program participants can provide this information and support. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans students, staff, and faculty will benefit by working in an environment where they are made to feel welcome. By establishing the Positive Space Program, Queen's is making this campus a more inclusive and comfortable place for all community members.

Who should join the Positive Space Program?

All members of the Queen's community who appreciate sexual and gender diversity and wish to provide additional support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people are encouraged to become involved.

It is hoped that staff, faculty, teaching assistants, residents, administrators, graduate students, and student organizations will all consider participating.

What is the process for becoming involved?

Participation involves a two-step process: completion of the on-line application and attendance at an information session to become familiar with the program. If members of a shared workspace are interested in participating, at least one member is required to attend the information session.

At the end of the information session, those who feel comfortable endorsing the mission statement may register in the program and receive their sticker for posting. Participants are not expected to provide counselling but, rather, general support. It is also expected that they will be familiar with discrimination and harassment policies as well as relevant organizations.

How can I join the Positive Space Program?

If you are interested in participating in the program, please complete the questionnaire found on this Web site.

If you are interested in joining the organizing committee, or would simply like more information, please contact the Positive Space Committee by email at posspace@post.queensu.ca. Contact information for individual committee members is available on this web site, or you can phone the Human Rights Office (533-6886).

Why have a Positive Space Program? Every place on campus should be queer-positive.

It is true that every place on campus should be queer-positive and that we all have a responsibility to be welcoming and inclusive of all people under the Queen's Harassment/Discrimination Policy and Procedure. However, the reality is that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people at Queen's are subjected to insults, harassment, and physical assaults, and that they continue to be excluded from texts, curricula, and scholarship.

The majority of these students, staff, and faculty do not experience most classrooms, labs, offices, or residences as queer-positive. As a result, very few feel comfortable self-identifying at Queen's. It is hoped that Positive Space Program indicators will offer them places where they can feel confident that sexual and gender diversity is respected and even celebrated.

The presence of the stickers will also raise awareness of the range of differences that exists on campus and sensitize others to subtle and overt forms of heterosexism and transphobia. In time, we do expect Queen's to be a queer-positive campus.

Do Positive Space stickers suggest that everywhere else is negative space?

No. The presence of a Positive Space sticker identifies a particular space as being queer-positive, but it does not mean that other spaces are not.

Not all queer-positive people will choose to participate in this program. Some may wish to show their support by displaying posters, flying rainbow flags, or posting other welcoming signs. Others may choose not to identify themselves as queer allies, for a variety of reasons, and the absence of a Positive Space sticker should not be assumed to reflect discriminatory attitudes about gender and sexual diversity.

Why not have a Positive Space Program for all oppressed groups?

Such a program would be desirable and useful. However, there is a pressing need to address sexual and gender diversity because of the relative invisibility of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans communities. Unlike many visible differences that lead to the harassment and discrimination of members of other groups, sexual and gender identity can be hidden. The high levels of heterosexism and transphobia in our society, and at Queen's, persuade most lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people to hide this aspect of themselves. Many faculty, students, and staff live in fear of being "found out" and do not pursue scholarship, friendships, or associations that may raise suspicions about their identities. Thus, the communities become invisible, giving the erroneous appearance of few lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people on campus, and the issues become invisible, with only the most courageous members and allies of these groups challenging these forms of discrimination.

The Positive Space Program expects that participants will have an understanding of the issues related to heterosexism and transphobia, an awareness of queer culture, and knowledge of relevant resources at Queen's and in Kingston. To this end, we require that participants attend a two-hour information session, and we offer ongoing meetings to ensure that resources and knowledge remain current. A significant commitment on the part of volunteers would be required to achieve that level of knowledge for all groups who are vulnerable to discrimination and harassment. Although this particular program focuses on sexual and gender diversity, research suggests that queer-friendly attitudes are correlated with support for other forms of diversity. It is hoped that all members of the community will find respect and support in queer-positive spaces.

How can we be sure that places with Positive Space indicators will actually feel positive to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people?

There are no guarantees that all participants in the program will be completely queer-positive, however, the probability is high that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people will be respected and supported in designated spaces.

'We require participants to "apply" for the program, to attend a two-hour information session, and to attend ongoing educational meetings to update knowledge and resources.

The use and effectiveness of the program is monitored and feedback from program participants, as well as the larger Queen's community, is invited.

What does the Positive Space logo mean?

The logo consists of an inverted Rainbow Triangle against the Queen's "Q." The six-coloured rainbow is taken from the Rainbow Flag, a common symbol of queer pride and support. The triangle is a reminder of the pink and black triangles that were used to mark gay men and lesbians in Nazi concentration camps during WorId War II.

Our design was modelled on York University's positive space logo.

How will we know if the program is effective?

The impact of the program is monitored by program participants and the Positive Space Committee. Participants are asked to provide the committee with feedback on requests for information and comments generated by the presence of the stickers.

It is hoped (and expected) that this program will contribute to a reduction in the levels of transphobia and heterosexism across campus and will result in greater numbers of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people feeling comfortable self-identifying at Queen's. It is also hoped that the frequency of heterosexist and transphobic incidents will decrease. However, because these incidents are rarely reported, an increase in reporting may follow an increase in the comfort level of queers at Queen's.

 


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Positive Space Program: Frequently Asked Questions