U of G launches LGBTQ+ inclusivity training program to create 'an environment that is welcoming'

The University of Guelph has created a new "positive space" training program for students, staff and faculty to foster a more inclusive environment for the LGBTQ2SIA+ community on campus.

"Even though I have really close friends and family that are part of the LGBTQ2SIA+ community, it's always important to continue to learn," said staff member Andrea Paper, who enrolled in the program.

The program, called the Positive Space Project, is meant to support and bring awareness to the LGBTQ2SIA+ community.

The first component of the program is an online, self-guided module and the second is an in-person workshop.

"What stuck out the most, there was a section on pronouns that was particularly helpful, there was a huge section on language fluidity," Pape said.

The training is available to anyone on campus.

"We have particular units, sharing information and knowledge about using inclusive language, about what the coming out process looks like and share some practical tools and tips in terms of allyship we're asking our campus community members to implement," said Jarred Sanchez-Cacnio, sexual and gender diversity advisory at the University of Guelph.

The program is part of a larger initiative to increase inclusion and diversity at the university.

"Having a place where everyone has a sense where they belong really is an important part to get down to the work of learning, and true learning has to happen in an environment that is welcoming," said Indira Naidoo-Harris, the university's associate vice president of diversity and human rights.

Pape says even in the first part of the program, she's taking away valuable lessons and is looking forward to the in-person workshop.

"I think that this module really continues the conversation and makes sure we're up to date and we're continuing to listen," she said.