By Myriah Saulnier
Faculty are doing what they can to be supportive of members of the LGBTQ community by getting involved with a new campaign by student support services called Positive Space.
Positive Space provides college personnel with training that helps to ensure all LGBTQ students, faculty and staff feel visible and supported, as well as knowledgeable about the community’s issues and resources on campus.
“Every staff member who has completed the trainings has the Positive Space triangle sign displayed in their work area,” said David Glickman, Positive Space coordinator. “This shows students this faculty member is aware of and accepts the LGBTQ community and can show them resources or support they might need.”
“We are trying to promote an accepting environment for persons of all gender identities and sexual orientations,” he said.
Positive Space threw a coffee house meet and greet event in the AC Hub on Sept. 11 on behalf of members from the LGBTQ2QIA community. Queer Student Alliance president Jesse Young explained the acronym as representing “anyone who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual or transgender, queer, two-spirited, questioning, intersex or asexual.” The short-form is LGBTQ + as displayed on their Facebook Group where students from the community are encouraged to join for more information on upcoming events and how to get involved.
“This is the first year we thought to throw an event to get students, faculty and allies together,” said Jeff Agate, manager of counselling and aboriginal services. “The college is a very ‘safe’ and conservative place sometimes and for an LGBT student it can feel like they are at a straight college. This is what Positive Space is trying to change.”
There were about 40 members of staff, faculty and students who came together to support the community. A few straight students came to support their friends.
For interior design student Audrey Forrest, events at the college are easier for her to get involved with because she is new to Ottawa.
“I’m hoping to meet some people,” said Forrest. “I’m new here so it’s nice to see these kind of events for this community at the college.”
However, there is still a lot of work to be done on behalf of the LGBTQ students, according to Glickman.
“Our dream is to have a social place on campus where this community can gather,” said Glickman. “The universities have them, but we have yet to get to that spot because there are so many different groups currently looking for social areas to gather and there’s just not enough space to offer.”
Not having proper labels for the unisex washrooms at the college is also a problem he hopes to fix.
“There are unisex washrooms here in the college but it’s a bit confusing because they are labelled disabled or family washrooms,” said Glickman. “We are hoping to get the universal symbol on the washrooms so it is easier to identify and so that transgender people realize these facilities exist and feel comfortable using them.”
“There’s obviously still a lot of work to be done,” he said..