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August 14, 2017 | by  | in The Queer Agenda |
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The Queer Agenda

Sanctuary, meaning: “refuge or safety from pursuit, persecution, or other danger.”

That’s what I think of when I hear the words “safe space”. Something we’ve talked about at UniQ before is that for a lot of queer students at Vic, the only place they feel they can be themselves is in a “safe space” like UniQ. Contrary to popular belief, the reason safe spaces like UniQ exist for queer people is because the world outside those four walls is not safe for us (the “four walls” being SU218, a room we have to book with the University before using).

Recently I talked to someone from OUT at AUT in Auckland. She told me how straight and cisgender students at AUT were complaining that they weren’t allowed to go to the club’s meetings. This is something I’ve not been able to stop thinking about.

The reason we need these spaces for ourselves is because we simply have nowhere else to go where we can actually be ourselves. Some people in 2017 would argue against this, but it is simply not the reality.

Safe spaces for queer people aren’t just groups like UniQ. They’re gender neutral bathrooms, lecturers who ask for pronouns, strangers who don’t assume your gender or sexuality.

We have parking spaces and bathrooms which are dedicated to disabled people. Spaces only they should be able to take up. Spaces that able bodied people insist on invading.  I’ve been at many events and tried to make the bathrooms gender neutral and time after time I’ve been told to “take over” the disabled bathrooms. Pushing one minority group into another’s safe space.

Disabled people, women, Māori and Pasifika people, and queer people all need to be able to take up space without fear of violence, judgement, or discrimination. We are demanding space that values our presence and where we won’t be ignored.

 

*UniQ would like to note that we are open to all students/staff who are questioning their gender/sexuality.

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