Positive Space

Positive Space

site header

Frequently Asked Questions

Click on a question to see the answer.

What is the Positive Space Program?

The Positive Space program offers visibility and support to LGBTQ+ communities. Positive Space stickers posted at the entrance to work, living, or study areas, and on personal belongings such as backpacks or laptops, encourage the Queen's community to celebrate the gender and sexual diversity that exists on campus and to work to overcome subtle and overt forms of discrimination and harassment. 

Participants help to create positive spaces at Queen's by avoiding making assumptions about anyone's sexual orientation or gender identity and by signaling that all are welcome. When asked, participants offer information and support (not counselling). Participants are familiar with queer issues, local resources, and discrimination policies.

Though Positive Space focuses on sexual and gender diversity, it strives to account for many different intersecting forms of discrimination, and supports anti-oppression work in its many manifestations at Queen's.

Why is a Positive Space Program needed?

In spite of the inclusive steps undertaken by many at Queen's, pockets of fear and hostility towards sexual and gender diversity continue to compromise the well-being of some members of our community. People are sometimes subjected to insults and harassment based on their actual or assumed sexual orientation, gender expression, or gender identity, and the histories and perspectives of those who identify in the queer community are not always reflected in texts and curricula.

As a result, some people may feel they must hide their sexual orientation or gender variance. For many 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. Even among those who are "out," feelings of isolation or invisibility may occur.

The Positive Space Program makes it clear that there are people and services at Queen's with whom individuals can feel confident that they will be respected and celebrated.

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 LGBTQ+  people are encouraged to become involved, regardless of their own sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.

Participants include staff, faculty, and students.

What is the process for becoming involved?

Participation involves a two-step process: attendance at an information session to become familiar with the program, and a decision at the end of the session to register and receive a sticker. If members of a workspace shared by a few people are interested in participating, at least one member is required to attend the information session, and all members need to be in agreement that they wish to post the sticker in their space.

For larger groups, departments, and services that want to brand themselves as a Positive Space, we have a larger sticker and we ask that insofar as practicable, all of those working out of the group's space attend the information session. This means that over time, new people are also encouraged to attend. We also ask that the members of such a group have an anonymous vote about whether to participate and if even one person votes "no," not put up the sticker. The program is purely voluntary.

How can I join the Positive Space Program?

If you are interested in participating in the program, watch our home page for dates when "open" information sessions are being offered; if your group of 10 or more people is interested, contact us at posspace@queensu.ca and we may be able to arrange an information session specifically for your group.

If you are interested in joining the steering committee, might like to become a facilitator of the info sessions, 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. However, the reality is that LGBTQ+ people are sometimes subjected to insults, harassment, and physical assaults, and continue to be excluded from texts, curricula, and scholarship.

As a result, some do not feel comfortable self-identifying at Queen's. It is hoped that Positive Space Program stickers will offer them places where they can feel confident that sexual and gender diversity is respected and even celebrated.

The presence of the stickers also raises awareness of the range of differences that exists on campus and sensitizes others to subtle and overt forms of discrimination. Positive Space hopes to aid Queen's in becoming an increasingly 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 or 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.

What about other oppressed groups?

Although this particular program focuses on sexual and gender diversity, it recognizes the intersectionality of oppressions and supports anti-oppression work in all its many manifestations at Queen's.

How can we be sure that places with Positive Space indicators will actually feel positive to LGBT+ people?

There can be no guarantees that all participants in the program will be completely queer-positive. 

We require participants to attend a two-hour information session, and encourage attendance at ongoing educational meetings to update knowledge and resources and engage in best practices discussions.

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 do 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.