A new concept will be installed in all Toronto schools next year. The concept of ‘positive spaces,’ where students, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered students who feel they are being discriminated against, can go to feel safe. Toronto schools will create ‘positive space’ rooms so that LGBT students can have an area where they always feel safe. Some students say that schools should be overall ‘positive buildings’ as well.
Susan Rogers, (40), a single lesbian mother of her gay son Todd, (13), has won her two year battle with Todd’s Toronto high school which has agreed to designate a room within the high school as a “positive space” for LGBT students and a promise from the Toronto School Board that other schools in the city to follow.
Rogers explains – “Todd’s Toronto high school has designated a room as a safe gathering place for LGBT students, something that every public school in the city will soon offer, a Toronto local television network reports.
Todd says – “He and his fellow students at Lawrence Park Collegiate have chosen the 12th-grade student lounge as a “positive space” where LGBT students can seek support. We just want the labels to be dropped, and we are at a place in society where we think we can drop those labels and just to be human.”
Toronto school district officials have stated that all 106 high schools and 480 elementary and middle schools in Toronto will have such a space by the end of 2012, with each staffed by a volunteer teacher who can help students deal with homophobia, sexism, and other issues.
“We guess everything is positive and safe in schools, but we know that’s not necessarily the case,” said Ken Jeffers, the Toronto district’s coordinator for gender-based violence prevention. “Many students suffer in silence.”
Students facing gender-based violence are most likely to turn towards self-harming behaviors aggressive behaviors towards peers or drop out of system entirely.”
Rogers tell us – “The “positive space” is meant to be a safe haven for all students but has a particular focus on those confronting issues regarding sexual orientation or gender identity. The idea grew out of a study which Rogers participated in after Todd was beaten up after school because he was gay. The report highlighted the need for a place for students to go when they feel unsafe. The study, the Faulkner Report, was commissioned after a 15-year-old student friend of Todd’s was shot at his school in 2007