Centennial College will dedicate September 30, 2021, Orange Shirt Day, as a day of reflection, engagement and learning for all of our students and employees, and will, as a result, be cancelling classes and suspending campus operations on Thursday.

Positive Space Program

Positive Space Program

What is the Positive Space Program?

The Positive Space Program is intended to create and identify respectful, supportive and safe learning and working environments for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, two-spirit, intersex, and queer (2SLGBTQQIA) students, employees and community members, as well as for their allies and people researching 2SLGBTQQIA issues. It’s important to mention here that the “+” sign is used to note that sexual and gender diversity is much broader than can be captured in an acronym, so the symbol is intended to signify inclusion of all genders, sexual orientations and sexes that identify along the rainbow spectrum.

Positive Space Indicators (decals and/or stickers with a rainbow flag) are distributed to staff and students that complete Positive Space training. They display these stickers in their work or study space to show the campus community that sexual and gender diversity is welcomed and affirmed in these places.

Why is Positive Space Needed?

Although there have been some significant positive shifts in attitudes and behaviours toward 2SLGBTQQIA people and communities in recent years, much work still needs to be done to foster a truly inclusive community. Many 2SLGBTQQIA individuals on college campuses may experience these environments as unsafe and unwelcoming. Often individuals are uncomfortable identifying their sexual orientation or gender identity to fellow students, teachers and/or co-workers for fear of discrimination or social exclusion.

As a result, many 2SLGBTQQIA individuals may attempt to keep their sexual orientation or gender identity hidden and may remain closeted in all or some parts of their lives. Many 2SLGBTQQIA faculty, staff and students report living in fear of “discovery” and take great pains to hide this aspect of themselves. As you can see, a program such as this, which focuses on a broad, visible commitment to welcoming sexual and gender diversity, is an important part of fostering 2SLGBTQQIA positive spaces.

Why Has a Special Program Focused on Sexual and Gender Diversity?

While some forms of harassment and discrimination are based on visible aspects of our identities, sexual and gender identity can at times be hidden. Homophobia, heterosexism and transphobia lead most 2SLGBTQQIA people to hide this aspect of themselves. Many faculty, staff and students live in fear of their sexual or gender identity being found out. This means that 2SLGBTQQIA communities and the issues that impact them often remain invisible. The focus of this program is to increase the visibility and creation of safe spaces for 2SLGBTQQIA communities.

Who Runs the Program?

The Positive Space Program is run by the Centre for Global Citizenship Education & Inclusion. If you are interested in attending one of our Positive Space workshops, please contact Gabriel Bedard at 416-289-500 x.2432 or at gbedard@centennialcollege.ca

What Does the Positive Space Logo Mean?

The Positive Space logo at Centennial uses the six colours of the rainbow flag. The rainbow flag is a symbol of pride in 2SLGBTQQIA communities and, as such, has a recognizable visual link to sexual orientation and gender identity. This logo, when displayed, is a Positive Space Indicator, sending a message to 2SLGBTQQIA people and allies that individuals who display this logo are knowledgeable, supportive and trustworthy about 2SLGBTQQIA issues. It also means that homophobic, transphobic and heterosexist comments and actions will not be tolerated in these spaces, but will instead be met with educational replies.

What is the Process for Getting Involved?

Interested individuals attend a 3-hour Positive Space workshop session to become familiar with 2SLGBTQQIA issues and how to act as an ally of the community. At the end of the session, those who feel comfortable participating can register for a Positive Space sticker to display in their workspace.

Participants are not expected to provide counselling but, rather, general support. It is expected that they will be familiar with issues impacting 2SLGBTQQIA communities, discrimination and harassment policies, and local resources.