Positive Space challenges the patterns of silence and erasure that continue to marginalize 2SLGBTQ+ students, staff, faculty, and librarians – even within organizations that have anti-discriminatory and inclusive policies. The most visible symbol of this campaign has been the inverted rainbow triangle sticker that you will see in many places around campus.
If you notice a Positive Space sticker on a door or an office, it is intended to be a sign that people in that office are supportive of 2SLGBTQ+ students, staff, faculty, librarians, and our allies. Currently, each campus has a committee that works towards ensuring that working and learning environments are welcoming to 2SLGBTQ+ students, staff, faculty, librarians, and allies. Change cannot come from policy alone. Change comes from people acting collectively to ensure that all are welcome and respected. Each Positive Space Committee establishes its own agenda, but all work towards building a more inclusive and equitable University.
The Positive Space Campaign is coordinated by a committee of volunteers who work to create awareness of 2SLGBTQ+ communities at the University of Toronto. The Positive Space Committees host events, organize educational initiatives, and share information with all members of the campus community.
That all members of the University of Toronto work to challenge discrimination based on sexual and/or gender diversity and are responsible for building a welcoming, supportive and inclusive campus community.
- Increasing visibility for 2SLGBTQ+ students, staff, faculty, and librarians
- Promoting equity, inclusion and intersectional understandings of identity
- Creating a campus culture for engagement and change
- Fostering pride, belonging and community for 2SLGBTQ+ people at U of T
U of T’s Positive Space Committee was born in 1995 when a group of faculty, students, and staff formed an ad hoc group to discuss an initiative to increase visibility and talk about sexual diversity. The committee was created through informal networking throughout the campus. Meetings were held to discuss the issues and generate ideas. This was at a time of less visibility of and support for 2SLGBTQ+ students, faculty, staff, and librarians.
The idea of stickers for application to an office door or window, declaring the space to be lesbian- and gay-positive was suggested. A flyer was then produced, explaining the campaign and providing a list of relevant resources to accompany the sticker. The committee proceeded to design the stickers and flyers for broad distribution.
Letters were sent out by the committee, requesting funds and support from various sectors of the University of Toronto community in order to be able to carry out the project and print the stickers. The stickers and flyers were distributed to numerous departments and offices throughout the St. George University campus and thus the campaign was launched, accompanied by press releases, in 1996.
During the launch of the campaign, there was considerable publicity that raised awareness and got campus community members talking. In 1997 the sticker and flyer were redrafted by the ad hoc committee.
Fast forward to today and the Positive Space committees have expanded to the three campuses – St. George, Mississauga, and Scarborough, and there are a variety of materials accessible to community members. The committees now advocate for a more expansive recognition of sexual and gender diversity, including creating welcoming spaces for U of T’s diverse trans, nonbinary and 2Spirit community members through an intersectional lens.