Tuesday, November 14, 2017

[positive spaces]

Positive Spaces address the issue that despite Canadian law which prohibits workplace discrimination and organizational policy which typically echoes the law and the Charter of Human Rights, many workplaces are still not welcoming places for LGBTQ2S+ employees.

Positive Space programs typically include some or all of the following:

  • Training for staff
  • Posters and stickers to reinforce the training and to increase awareness by staff, clients, and the public
  • Positive Space champions - volunteers who "offer support, raise awareness, and wear and post identifiers to designate both themselves and their workspaces as safe."
  • Review of procedures and documents to ensure they are LGBTQ+ positive and inclusive

Positive Spaces and similar programs are intended to result in a declared space (declared as being a positive, welcoming and affirming space for LGBTQ2S+ employees), persons who have declared themselves as allies / advocates / safe people to talk to, and overall increased awareness. LGBTQ Positive Spaces are being used by various organizations to promote safety and inclusion of LGBTQ+ employees and clients. Here are some examples:

University of Toronto - see poster above.

Ontario Parks is another example. Here's what they say on their website:
Ontario Parks is committed to creating welcoming spaces that are inclusive and free from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

Since 2013, we have been successful in increasing the number of parks which offer Positive Space Champions, part of the Ontario Public Service’s broader Positive Space Program.

The program recognizes the responsibility of creating a safe, accepting and inclusive environment for persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities by training employees to be Positive Space Champions.

University of British Columbia has a positive space program as well. Two things of note to mention from their site: maps showing the location of gender-inclusive washrooms, and seven Positive Space Resource Persons share their stories.

Safe Harbour: Respect for All logo. From their websiteThe Edmonton Public Library has taken part in the Safe Harbour: Respect for All program,
"an award-winning diversity and inclusion training program for workplaces. We provide businesses, institutions and organizations with training to understand the value of diversity and inclusion, address issues of discrimination in the workplace, and attract and retain a diverse workforce and clientele."

The Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants has also launched an initiative related to LGBTQ+ Newcomer Services. They offer an interesting assessment tool that can be used free and anonymously by anyone -- while some questions are newcomer-focused, the majority are not and can be useful for doing an inventory of where one's organization is at.

This site has much discussion about declared spaces -- spaces that clearly articulate if and how they value and embrace diverse people. One of the things about declared spaces is that they could declare that they do not embrace diverse peoples -- the focus is on clarity about one's position.

Positive space initiatives, on the other hand, are typically found in organizations that officially have pro-LGBTQ+ policies yet where this has not fully worked itself into reality for LGBTQ+ employees.

Thus, the point is to move from a declared (viz., official) policy to a lived reality of welcome and equality for LGBTQ+ employees and clients within the organization.

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