Positive Space Campaign FAQs

What is the purpose of the Positive Space Campaign?

The Positive Space Campaign is intended to help create campuses that are free from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. It aims to foster a welcoming atmosphere on campus for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities by identifying spaces where sexual and gender diversity is supported and valued. This campaign is a reflection of Okanagan College's commitment to creating a work and learning environment that is inclusive and celebrates diversity. 

Why single out this among other ‘diversity’ issues?

Respect for and inclusion of all people regardless of background or circumstance is a valued goal for Okanagan College. However, unlike and compared to other more visual diversity characteristics, sexual  orientation and gender identity are more easily hidden. Therefore, many LGBTQ persons remain closeted in all or some parts of their lives depending on the environment or situation. The more hostile the environment to sexual and gender diversity, the more likely LGBTQ persons assume they or not welcome or safe unless given indications to the contrary. As such, LGBTQ persons are oppressed in ways that encourage and maintain their invisibility. Thus, an incorrect assumption is made that there are few LGBTQ persons at Okanagan College. A campaign such as this, which focuses on visibility and the promotion of safety, is an effective way to help counteract this. 

Do I assume that people who do not display “Positive Space” posters are not supportive of sexual and gender diversity?

No. Some people at Okanagan College may not have heard of the campaign or may not have been available for a workshop. Others may be aware and supportive of the campaign, but may not have control over what is posted in their office space. Others may be supportive, but not yet comfortable speaking out on these issues. Still others may simply not be in the habit of putting posters on their doors or areas of work.

If I display a poster, does that mean I should be ready to offer counseling and advice?

No. Displaying a poster means that you are supportive of these issues and have some knowledge about them, but it does not mean that you should be prepared to offer counseling. If a situation arises in which you feel the person who has approached you needs more advice or assistance than you are able and willing to give, you should refer that person to one of the other resources on or off campus (e.g. Okanagan College Counseling Services or Okanagan Pride Centre). Most people, whether they are LGBTQ or not, will not be looking for counseling. They will just want a supportive and understanding person to talk with. 

Will displaying a poster make people think I’m LGBTQ?

Possibly. However, one of the goals of this campaign is to make that question irrelevant. Straight people are being encouraged to become allies and take up these issues alongside members of the LGBTQ community, and they are doing so in greater and more visible numbers. True, some people still assume that those who talk supportively of sexual and gender diversity are themselves LGBTQ. This is often not the case. Also, this campaign asks people to think about why such labels make people uneasy. Being thought of as “different” is still a big deal for many, evoking discomfort and fear. The Positive Space Campaign wants to challenge that. This campaign is for everyone who is, or wants to be, LGBTQ positive. 

What is this campaign not intended to do?

It is not intended to establish a counseling network Okanagan College beyond that which already exists. It is not intended to embarrass people into declaring that they are supportive of the LGBTQ on campus. It is not intended to encourage finger pointing at those who do not become part of the campaign. It is not intended to suggest that those who are part of the campaign are themselves LGBTQ. 

I already have a lot of experience with these issues. Do I have to attend a workshop to get a poster to display?

Preferrably. Ideally, everyone who wishes to get a poster should attend a workshop. There are people on campus who likely don’t need this training or don’t have time to attend a workshop, but the Committee that developed the Positive Space Campaign felt that attendance was important for a number of reasons. Although the training is short and thus cannot be comprehensive, it is one way that we can ensure that all those associated with the campaign have at least a basic understanding of some of the key issues addressed by the Campaign. Those people who are already well versed in these issues will have lots to contribute and will be an asset to fellow participants. The workshops are also opportunities to meet and network with others. Additionally, attending a workshop helps those in need of support to feel comfortable that those who display the poster are in fact LGBTQ friendly.