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Positive Space

Submitted by gillian.edwards on Tue, 10/11/2016 - 11:16am

Positive Space

Submitted by gillian.edwards on Tue, 10/11/2016 - 10:46am

The Campaign for Positive Space seeks to create a more welcoming place for all those who study, work and live at the University of Calgary. The Campaign raises awareness of and addresses discrimination and harassment based on sexual and gender diversity and challenges the patterns of silence that continue to marginalize bisexuals, gays, lesbians and transgendered individuals.

The Campaign for Positive Space is intended to help create a campus that is free of discrimination on the basis of sexual and gender identity. It is also aimed at encouraging a widespread and visible commitment to welcoming sexual and gender diversity, making talk of diversity more open and less unusual. Often, efforts to do so have centered on criticism of policies, behaviours, and attitudes that marginalize. This campaign takes an affirmative, positive approach.

Show your support for the Positive Space Campaign by displaying a sticker in your space.  Contact Andrea Berbic at for your sticker today!


  • Treat homophobia and transgendered discrimination as seriously as you would racial discrimination or other forms of sexual harassment and act on them.

  • Let others know that innuendos, jokes, and teasing based on sexual and gender diversity are unacceptable to you.

  • Support campus anti-discrimination efforts, e.g., the harassment policy and procedures, equity initiatives, and educational seminars.

  • Support bisexual, gay, lesbian or transgendered activities and organizations on campus (e.g., Q Centre, Women's Resource Centre).

  • Report vandalism, threats or violence against bisexuals, gays, lesbians or transgendered to Campus Security (403-220-5333) or the ODEPD (403-220-4439)

  • Be supportive of someone who is "coming out."


  • Don't assume that everyone is heterosexual.

  • Identify homophobia, heterosexism and transgendered discrimination as the problem, not a person's sexuality or gender identity.

  • Think about the similarities and differences between homophobia and transgendered discrimination and other forms of prejudice and discrimination (e.g., racism, sexism and ageism).

  • Consider the experiences of bisexual, gay, lesbian or transgendered people on campus.

  • Think about how sexual and gender prejudice affects your same-gender friendships and your cross-gender friendships.

Educate Yourself

There are many ways to educate oneself about discrimination and harassment based on gender and sexual diversity:

  • Attend workshops on sexual and gender diversity.
  • Read books and other educational material that provides accurate and up-to-date information about bi-sexual, gay, lesbian and transgendered issues. Check Taylor Family Digital Library for useful books and videos.
  • See films; attend special events focused on bisexual, gay, lesbian or transgendered issues.
  • Integrate bisexual, gay, lesbian or transgendered issues and relevant print/audio-visual materials into classroom curriculum.
  • Support the visibility of bisexual, gay lesbian, queer or transgendered people in your classroom, workplace and organization.
  • Provide literature in places where it is easily accessible.
  • Keep a list of relevant resources to share with others.
  • Attend workshops on sexual and gender diversity.

Recognize heterosexual privilege

Webster’s dictionary defines “privilege” as the right or immunity granted as an advantage or favour to some but not to others. Heterosexual privilege confers unearned and unchallenged advantages and rewards on heterosexuals solely as a result of their sexual orientation.

 Heterosexual privilege takes many forms:

  •  Showing affection in public safely and comfortably, without fear of harassment or violence
  • Openly talking about one’s partner and relationships to others without considering the consequences
  • Benefiting from societal “normalcy”: the assumption that heterosexual individuals and relationships are valid, healthy and non-deviant
  • Assuming that all people and relationships are heterosexual, unless otherwise known
  • Not facing rejection from one’s family and friends because of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Easily accessing positive role models and media images for one’s gender identity and sexual orientation
  • Not being asked to speak on behalf of all heterosexuals
  • Using gender specific pronouns when referring to one’s spouse or partner without discomfort or fear of reprisal
  • Having automatic recognition of one’s spouse as next-of-kin in emergencies
  • Easily selecting print or viewing materials in which heterosexuality is the predominantly reflected orientation
  • Having families similar to one’s own represented in children’s literature
  • Raising children without fear that they will be rejected or harassed by peers because of their parents’ sexual orientation or gender identities
  • Receiving support and validation from a religious community
  • Not risking being denied employment, housing or other services because of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Not being seen as needing therapy to “cure” one’s sexual orientation or gender expression
  • Marrying

 Adapted from UBC’s Equity Office’s “Recognizing Heterosexism and Homophobia”

Frequently Asked Questions

Submitted by gillian.edwards on Tue, 10/11/2016 - 11:23am

Why single out sexual and gender diversity?

While there are a variety of equity issues that call for public discussion and institutional support, there is still a widespread reluctance to speak of  sexual and gender diversity. Many bisexuals, gays, lesbians and transgendered people often encounter a hostile environment and assume negative views of their sexuality and gender identity, unless given a strong message to the contrary.

Why is the campaign needed?

Stereotypes and prejudices toward members of the bisexual, gay, lesbian and transgendered communities remain widespread in society at large. No institution as large as the University of Calgary can assume that the stereotypes and prejudices that exist outside the university are not also within its walls.The campaign recognizes that much still has to be done to create a truly inclusive environment and gives members of the campus community an opportunity to take a visible stand and show their support.

Does the campaign assume that the University of Calgary is homophobic or discriminates against transgendered individuals?

No. The University of Calgary has begun a number of initiatives that demonstrate its support for its bisexual, gay lesbian, queer and transgendered members. Organizations such as Q Centre, and the Women's Resource Centre have undertaken education and awareness campaigns that have helped to raise the university's awareness of the issues surrounding gender and sexual diversity. However, no institution as large as the University of Calgary can assume that the stereotypes and prejudices that exist outside the university are not also within its walls. Much has been done, but more is needed.

If I participate in this campaign, will people think I'm bisexual, gay, lesbian, queer or transgendered?

A number of the individuals who have sponsored and who continue to work with this campaign, and many who will put up posters and stickers are themselves heterosexual. True, some people may still assume that those who talk supportively of sexual and gender diversity are themselves bisexual, gay, lesbian, queer or transgendered. This campaign is intended to challenge that pattern.

Should I assume that those who do not actively participate in the campaign are not positively disposed to gender and sexual diversity?

That is not a safe assumption. There may be those within the university who have not yet heard of the campaign. Others may feel positively about the campaign, but may not have control over the type of literature and stickers they post in there area. Some people may be supportive but not yet quite comfortable in speaking about diversity. Others still may not be in the habit of displaying stickers or posters on their door.

Does putting a Positive Space sticker on my belongings or door mean that I have made a commitment to counsel or offer advice?

Posting a sticker means that you are supportive in a general way. If you feel someone needs more support than you can offer, it is best to refer the individual to someone who can provide it. You would probably do the same for everyone, regardless of their sexual or gender identity. Bisexual, gay, lesbian, queer and transgendered individuals do not need counselling any more than heterosexual people. They do, however, need support and affirmation, just like anyone else. 

Where can I use Positive Space stickers?

The stickers are intended to communicate your support. Please respect the property and space of others by applying the stickers only on your belongings and in your spaces, e.g. on your door, in your room or office. Please refrain from posting this sticker in shared spaces such as elevators, stairwell walls, in the Library, etc.

What is the campaign NOT intended to do?

The campaign is not intended to establish a counselling network in the university beyond that which is already in place. It is not intended to embarrass people into asserting that they are open to gender and sexual diversity. It is not intended to encourage finger pointing at those who do not become part of the campaign.

History of the logo

The Positive Space symbol is a combination of two symbols associated with the bisexual, gay lesbian and transgendered community: the pink triangle and the rainbow flag.

The pink triangle came from Nazi concentration camps during World War II where prisoners were classified by different coloured triangles. Prisoners convicted for sexual deviance, including homosexuality wore a pink triangle. The pink triangle has now been reclaimed by the gay community as a symbol of empowerment, and, by some, a symbol of remembrance to the suffering of others during a tragic time in history.

The Rainbow Flag, created in 1978 for San Francisco's Gay Freedom Celebration, depicts the colours of the rainbow in horizontal stripes. This flag, which has become a universal emblem for unity within diversity (or diversity within unity), remains a powerful symbol of pride within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered communities.