||The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (November 2015)|
In educational institutions, safe-space (or safe space), safer-space, and positive space are terms used to indicate that a teacher, educational institution or student body do not tolerate perceived anti-LGBT violence, harassment, hate speech or disagreement, but rather are open and accepting to opinions aligned to their own, thereby creating a safe place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and all students.
Advocates for Youth states on their website that a safe-space is: "A place where anyone can relax and be fully self-expressed, without fear of being made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome or challenged on account of biological sex, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, cultural background, age, or physical or mental ability; a place where the rules guard each person's self-respect, dignity and feelings and strongly encourage everyone to respect others.
In general these may be individuals or institutions which support a safe space for LGBT students and employees. They may offer or mandate staff training on diversity; includes being a safe space in the organization's mission; develops and posts a value statement in the organization's office, online, or on printed documents; or, if part of a coalition, encourages the coalition to include being a safe space in its mission and values.
Origin and history
The concept originated in the women's movement, where it "implies a certain license to speak and act freely, form collective strength, and generate strategies for resistance...a means rather than an end and not only a physical space but also a space created by the coming together of women searching for community." The first safe spaces were gay bars and consciousness raising groups.
In 1989 Gay & Lesbian Urban Explorers (GLUE) developed a safe spaces program. During their events including diversity-training sessions and antihomophobia workshops, they passed out magnets with an inverted pink triangle, "ACT UP's...symbol", surrounded by a green circle to, "symbolize universal acceptance," and asked, "allies to display the magnets to show support for gay rights and to designate their work spaces free from homophobia."
Positive Space initiatives are prevalent in post-secondary institutions across Canada including McGill University, the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia, and Queen's University.
In early 2015 the increasing adoption of safe spaces in UK universities aroused controversy due to accusations that they were used to stifle free speech and differing political views.
- Nicole Christine Raeburn (2004). Changing Corporate America from Inside Out: Lesbian and Gay Workplace Rights. University of Minnesota Press. p. 209. ISBN 978-0-8166-3998-4.
- "Glossary". Advocates for Youth. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
- "Tips and Strategies for Creating a Safe Space for GLBTQ Youth". Advocates for Youth. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
- Kenney, Moira Rachel (2001). Mapping Gay L.A.: The Intersection of Place and Politics. p. 24. ISBN 1-56639-884-3.
- Raeburn, Nicole C. (2004). Changing Corporate America from Inside Out: Lesbian and Gay Workplace Rights. p. 209. ISBN 0-8166-3999-X.
- Office of Student Life. "Positive Space Campaign". University of Toronto. Retrieved 18 June 2011.
- Queen's Positive Space Program. "The Queen's Positive Space Program". Queen's University. Retrieved 18 June 2011.
- Positive Space. "The Positive Space Campaign". University of British Columbia. Retrieved 18 June 2011.
- Dunt, Ian (6 February 2015). "Safe space or free speech? The crisis around debate at UK universities". The Guardian.