George Brown College's Positive Space Award Winners 2016-2017 School Year – Congratulations to Gabriela Aveiro and Erin Edhill!
Gabriela Aveiro is an animator with a specialty in games, but is first and foremost a storyteller
"Born and raised in Paraguay, I draw a lot of inspiration for my visual and written work from my culture's folklore and oral traditions. Encouraging diversity and equity in design is one of my passions and has driven me to create Pytyvo Gaming, a group dedicated to showcasing creators and games from diverse ethnic backgrounds. I believe that the inclusion and visibility of underrepresented identities (as creators and within narrative) can lead to more interesting and compelling stories."
Erin Edghill is a Queer identified student, artist, and activist
"I am a first-year student in the Community Worker Program and have been working and volunteering in the LGBTQ+ community for the last four years. I became interested in working in the Queer and Trans* community when starting the Gay-Straight-Alliance at my Catholic high school and began to educate myself around the needs of the LGBTQ+ Community. Running the GSA led me to youth programming at Supporting Out Youth where I completed an 8-month Anti-Oppression and leadership training called SOY H.E.A.T. Upon completing H.E.A.T., I joined their speakers bureau and began delivering talks and workshops on the importance of anti-oppression, inclusivity, and safe(r) space for LGBTQ+ people. After completing H.E.A.T. and half a fifth-year in school, I was accepted into Studio [Y], an 8-month Fellowship run out of the MaRS Discovery District where I was given the tools and time to further explore what it meant to be a critical thinker and to challenge systems of oppression in life and the community. These opportunities inspired me to give back to the community and to make meaningful interventions to better situations for Queer and Trans* youth in Toronto and beyond. After completing Studio [Y], I enrolled in the Community Worker Program at George Brown College and through my classes I am continuing to broaden my knowledge of the community while increasing my self-awareness and building the skill set necessary to make meaningful change in the LGBTQ+ community."
What is the Positive Space Campaign?
The Positive Space Campaign is a reflection of George Brown's commitment to welcome and include all members of the community and to create a college community that is free of discrimination and harassment based on gender and sexual identity.
The Positive Space Campaign brings visibility and support to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, two-spirit and queer/questioning communities at George Brown College.
Trained Resource Persons display the Positive Space Logo at the entrance of their work area, indicating that they are queer-positive and able to provide information and referrals. The presence of the Positive Space Ribbons raises awareness of the differences that exists on campus and sensitizes others to both subtle and overt forms of heterosexism, homophobia and transphobia.
Who runs the program?
The Positive Space Steering Committee, made up of staff, faculty, administrators and students advises the Positive Space Team. The Positive Space Team is a group of faculty and staff which designs and facilitates the workshops and also plans events. The project is housed in Diversity, Equity & Human Rights services and sponsored by the Executive Director of Human Resources.
Why is Positive Space needed?
For many LGBTQ students, college provides their first opportunity to "come out." This can be a difficult and confusing time but support and access to resources can ease the process. LGBTQ staff and faculty also benefit when working in an environment which is welcoming and inclusive. However, heterosexism and transphobia continue to compromise the well-being of queer students, staff and faculty at George Brown College. The experience of insults and harassment prevent a lot of people from self-identifying. Those who do, often feel isolated and alone.
This program clearly designates those individuals and services with whom lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, two-spirit and queer people can feel confident that their sexual and gender diversity will be respected and celebrated.
By establishing the Positive Space Campaign, George Brown is making this college a more inviting and comfortable place for all community members.
Why have a special program for sexual and gender minorities?
Unlike many visible differences that lead to the harassment and discrimination of members of other oppressed groups, sexual and gender identity can be hidden. Heterosexism and transphobia persuades most lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, two-spirit and queer people to hide this aspect of themselves. Many faculty, students and staff live in fear of being "found out". Thus both the communities and the issues remain invisible.
The focus of this program is visibility. Participants are expected to be familiar with harassment and discrimination policies and the goal is also to ensure that members of other oppressed groups will find respect and support in queer-positive spaces.
Who should join the Positive Space Program?
All members of the George Brown community who appreciate sexual and gender diversity are encouraged to become involved in the program; including staff, faculty, administration and students. However, participants must have an appropriate work, or study space to designate as Positive Space.
What does the Positive Space logo mean?
The logo consists of a rainbow version of the "G" from the George Brown College logo. The rainbow is a symbol of queer pride and indicates LGBTQ-friendly spaces. The "v" in "positive" is an inverted, rainbow triangle. The triangle is a symbol which remembers homosexuals persecuted in the holocaust, the concentration camps created by Nazi Germany, during World War II.
Will a ribbon on my door lead others to think that I am lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans?
Perhaps. Although the program is designed for all college community members, some people will assume that program participation reflects membership in lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, two-spirit or queer communities. Volunteers, whether straight or queer, must decide if they are willing to be seen as aligned with the queer community. The long-term goal of the program is to make that question irrelevant.
What is the process for becoming involved?
Interested volunteers attend a 3-hour information session to become familiar with queer issues and how to act as an ally to the queer community. At the end of the session, those who feel comfortable participating, can register for a Positive Space Ribbon to display in their work space.
Participants are not expected to provide counselling but, rather, general support. It is expected that they will be familiar with queer issues, discrimination and harassment policies, and local resources.
Students interested, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.