1. Why single out sexual orientation and gender diversity issues?
The Positive Space Alliance acknowledges that there are a variety of equity issues that merit public discussion and widespread institutional support. However, sexual orientation and gender identity issues are frequently omitted from public policy and educational strategies. Often, issues of sexual orientation and gender identity are spoken of solely in a negative manner, or are avoided as a result of fear or embarrassment. Many LGBTQ+ people frequently encounter a hostile environment, and can assume negative views of their sexuality and gender identity as a result.
There is still widespread reluctance to speak of sexual and gender diversity. In contrast, talk of emotional and sexual bonds between heterosexuals is routine (e.g. ‘My wife and I are going to the party.’ or ‘My boyfriend and I had a great time on the weekend.’) It is not the same for LGBTQ+ individuals. They often cannot talk openly about the person or people they care most about, with whom they are intimate, or even with whom they spend time. Doing so may mean a threatened job, a lost friendship, ridicule, even violence. The goal of VIU’s Positive Space Alliance is to break this pattern. Through the use of educational tools such as information sheets, seminars, brochures, stickers, magnets, pins, the Alliance aims to make issues of sexual orientation and gender diversity more visible.
2. What are the objectives of the Alliance?
The Positive Space Alliance takes an affirmative, positive approach to creating a campus that is free of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. It is also aimed at encouraging a widespread and visible commitment to welcoming sexual and gender diversity on campus, and at making talk of diversity more open and less unusual.
3. What is the Alliance NOT intended to do?
The Positive Space Alliance is not intended to establish a counselling network on campus beyond that which is already in place. It does not aim to embarrass people into asserting that they are open about sexual orientation and gender diversity issues. The Alliance is not intended to encourage finger pointing at those who do not become part of it or to suggest that all those who are part of the Alliance are LGBTQ+.
4. Why is the Alliance needed?
Many of society’s attitudes and behaviours towards sexual and gender diversity have changed over the past few years; however, stereotypes and prejudices remain widespread. Members of the LGBTQ+ community continue to be marginalized and silenced. The Alliance recognizes that much still has to be done. It gives members of the Vancouver Island University community an opportunity to take a visible stand and to show their support.
5. If I participate in this Alliance, will people think I’m LGBTQ+?
Although some may assume that anyone who takes a stand in support of equality for LGBTQ+ people must be a member of that community, this Alliance is intended to challenge that assumption. A number of the Alliance committee members and many employees and students who show their support by putting up posters and stickers are heterosexual. This Alliance welcomes people of all sexual orientations and genders working together for equality.
6. Should I assume that those who do not actively participate in the Alliance are not positively disposed to gender and sexual diversity?
This is not a safe assumption. There may be those within the university community who have not yet heard of the Alliance. Others may feel positively about the Alliance but may not have control over the type of literature and stickers they post in their area. Some people may be supportive but not yet comfortable speaking openly about diversity. Still others may not be in the habit of displaying materials on their door.
7. How can I get involved?
You can participate in the Alliance by letting us know, at firstname.lastname@example.org, that you are interested in joining the Alliance. The Alliance will also include workshops and special events that may be of interest to you. Support the Positive Space Alliance and assist us to identify other initiatives by joining the Positive Space Alliance.