Creating safe places on campus for LGBTQ+ people

Monday, September 18, 2017

By Heather Bean, University Relations

Corey Johnson portrait

The University of Waterloo is home to Canada’s oldest LGBTQ+ student organization: today, it’s known as the GLOW Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity. But when Corey Johnson joined the Recreation and Leisure Studies program as a professor in 2015, he was surprised to learn that the university didn’t yet have an LGBTQ+ ally program in place.

Luckily, he met Jeremy Steffler, a Waterloo grad and employee, and together they saw potential. “We thought, ‘Yes, we’re a little bit behind the ball, but how can we get ahead of it?’ It was a synergistic opportunity,” says Johnson. Along with a GLOW student coordinator, they hatched the idea for Making Spaces

The Making Spaces workshop is a collaborative, process-driven program that trains staff, faculty and student allies to create more inclusive spaces on campus for LGBTQ+ people. The workshop is run in small groups, and involves activities that give participants a sense of the kinds of experiences LGBTQ people have. A panel of LGBTQ+ student volunteers take part in each session, describing their own experiences on campus and answering questions from participants. After completing the workshop, participants can choose to become Space Makers and display a sticker on office doors or desks to identify themselves.

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