Be oriented to positive space

The Sexual & Gender Diversity Advisory Committee is holding a Positive Space Orientation Session on Monday, March 10, 11am-1:30pm. For the location of the orientation and to register for the event, please contact OmiSoore H. Dryden, advisor on Race & Ethnic Relations/Sexual & Gender Diversity in York’s Centre for Human Rights & Equity, at

After attending the orientation session, participants will be issued with Positive Space Indicators (PSI), (left) to show that they have taken part and have the information needed to be volunteers in York’s Positive Space Program.

To find out more information about the orientation session, read the following account submitted to YFile by OmiSoore H. Dryden (right).

York’s Positive Space Program is designed to indicate spaces that are especially welcome for people belonging to sexual and gender diverse groups. York University is a very diverse community. Among its members are sexually diverse groups such as lesbians, gays, and bisexuals, and gender diverse groups such as transsexuals, transgendered people and intersexed people.

Volunteers involved in the Positive Space Program believe it is important for there to be locations where people can go for assistance – places where trained volunteers are able to handle queries, referrals and difficulties that may be specific to community members who are sexually or gender diverse.

Positive Space Program goals:

  • To provide a positive space for inquiry and expression of sexual orientation and gender issues;
  • To support an open and welcoming atmosphere;
  • To promote the full inclusion all sexual & gender diversity on campus;
  • To increase the awareness of sexual & gender diversity; and
  • To serve as a resource to all University constituencies regarding sexual & gender diversity.

The Orientation Session

An individual who has applied for a PSI and has been accepted into the program will then attend a Positive Space Orientation. This is, typically, a half-day session with limited objectives, one of which is to make it very clear that holders of a PSI are not in any way counsellors. They are only sympathetic ears, schooled in referral to appropriate offices.

The sessions are run on campus using York personnel for training purposes. The goals of the orientation sessions are as follows:

  • To familiarize the attendee with the variety of sexual & gender diversity one may come across on campus;
  • To emphasize that even within apparently homogenous groups there may well be marked cultural and racial divergences;
  • To familiarize attendees with York”s Sexual Harassment Regulations and the recommendations of the President”s Taskforce on Homophobia and Heterosexism; and
  • To review support organizations and services on and off campus.

Orientation sessions will be directed at familiarizing attendees with both the problems of and resources available to members of York”s sexual & gender diverse communities. In addition, there will be discussion directed at raising the sorts of difficulties many members of the York community encounter both on campus and in society at large.

Displaying the Positive Space Indicator

Where a PSI [a sticker] is displayed, this indicates that volunteers in the designated space will be familiar with the availability of on-campus resources, discrimination and harassment policies, and relevant groups and organizations on and off campus.

The PSI will indicate, as precisely as possible, the extent of the designated area. It may be affixed to as narrow a space as a private office or an individual desk in a collective work space. Only when co-workers in the common work area have agreed to refer to the trained individual can the sticker be moved to a wider area. It is important that anyone assuming the security and comfort a PSI is intended to indicate not be misled by the location of the indicator.