The Campaign for Positive Space challenges the patterns of silence that continue to marginalize lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered even in environments with anti-discriminatory and inclusive policies. Whether you are bisexual, transgendered, lesbian, gay or straight, displaying the Positive Space sticker on the door of your office, union material or workplace union bulletin board means that you are contributing to the creation of an environment that welcomes workplace and societal rights for our Sisters and Brothers who are gay men, lesbians, transgendered or bisexual. It conveys a message that your door is open and that you respect and will fight for rights of those whose sexual orientation may, or may not be, the same as yours.
The labour movement can be proud of the role we have played in furthering the struggle for equal rights for our members who are part of these communities. The labour movement has clearly shown that we will fight for the rights of gay and lesbian workers at the bargaining table, in the courts and in the legislature. In supporting the Campaign for Positive Space we are ensuring the fullest participation of our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Brothers and Sisters in our unions and in society.
Positive Space Image
The pink and black triangles unite the gay and lesbian symbols. The history of the triangles goes back to the concentration camps in Nazi Germany during the second World War. Gay men incarcerated in the camps were forced to wear an inverted pink triangle and lesbian or "anti-social" women were singled out for derision with an inverted black triangle. These symbols, once used as a weapon for cruelty and humiliation, are now worn as a mark of remembrance and pride.
Questions & Answers
What are the objectives of the campaign?
The Campaign for Positive Space is aimed to create a safe, positive space that is free of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. To identify an environment where human rights are respected and where gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered their friends and allies are welcomed and supported.
Why is this campaign needed?
Much has changed in attitudes and behaviors towards bisexual, transgendered, lesbians, and gay men, but stereotypes and prejudices remain widespread. Many of our union Brothers and Sisters from these communities continue to be marginalized and silenced because of harassment, discrimination and threats of violence. Despite our progress, many of our Brothers and Sisters still continue to face barriers to accessing workplace and societal rights. This campaign recognizes that much still has to be done and gives our union membership and leadership an opportunity to take a visible stand and show their support.
Does the campaign assume that the labour movement is homophobic?
The labour movement can be proud of the role we have played in furthering the struggle for equal rights for our members who are part of these communities. The labour movement has clearly shown that we will fight for the rights of gay and lesbian workers at the bargaining table, in the courts and in the legislature. However, the reality is we live in a society that is racist, sexist and homophobic. There is no magic curtain that our members go through when they enter a workplace or union event that removes the negative stereotypes and prejudices of people. The labour movement has taken many positive actions, but much more is needed.
Will a sticker on my door make people think I'm gay or lesbian?
Many of those working on this campaign and many who will display the stickers are heterosexual. True, some people may still assume that those who talk supportively of rights and an end to discrimination are gay and lesbian. This very assumption is one example of homophobia. This campaign has been developed as a challenge to that pattern.
Should I assume that union locations without the Positive Space stickers are not supportive of gay and lesbian rights?
No. Many people may not have heard of the campaign, others may be supportive but may not have control over what gets posted on union bulletin boards or office doors. Others may be supportive but are apprehensive about displaying the sticker.
Does a sticker on my door mean that I have made a commitment to counsel or offer advice?
By posting a sticker you are sending a signal that you support human rights and ending discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered. If you are in a leadership position, such as union steward, you would offer advice in this area of human rights the same as you would on matters of the collective agreement or other union business. If you feel someone needs more support than you can offer refer the Brother or Sister to your union's provincial or national representative or to the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour Solidarity and Pride Committee (306) 525-0197 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Produced by the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour. We wish to thank our Sisters and Brothers in the Ontario Federation of Labour who allowed us to adopt their Positive Space material.