A Fredericton group is raising money for the creation of the first designated “safe space” for LGBTQ people of all ages in the city.
The Imprint Youth Association is working towards establishing a physical space for the organization to continue its efforts. The non-profit holds occasional office hours in the Fredericton Public Library and helps in the organization of events such as coffee houses, workshops and Pride Youth Prom.
Reid Lodge, one of the founders of Imprint Youth and a member of their Board of Directors, said safe spaces like the one Imprint Youth is proposing are crucial in building comfort, self-expression, and self-acceptance in LGBTQ people.
“Our own experiences growing up as LGBTQ youth in Atlantic Canada left us feeling isolated and unsupported at various points, and we all wanted to contribute to a sense of strength, resiliency, and mutual support in the next generation,” Lodge said.
With the opening of The 203 Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity last year and the actions of other movements in the school and city, the safe space discussion has been brought to the forefront of the University of New Brunswick community.
“At the individual level, this helps people who may be feeling alone in their community or overwhelmed by negative messaging about LGBTQ people to find community support and resources,” Lodge said. “At the macro level, this helps create a culture that embraces and celebrates diversity in sexuality and gender.”
UNB Human Rights Officer Sula Levesque and Sabine Lebel of the Presidential Bi-Campus Standing Committee of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Human Rights recently partnered with The 203 in organizing a Positive Spaces Workshop.
Levesque and Lebel describe positive spaces as being a place where an individual can be and discover their “whole self” without fear of judgment or disapproval. These spaces take a lot of time and communication to achieve, but are important in combating the challenges that minority groups face.
The women acknowledge that no space can be completely safe; thus it is important for individuals within these spaces to educate themselves and prioritize respect.