Guidelines for Creating Safer Spaces
Being able to create a safer space for yourself, between two individuals, for a group, a community, an event or a workshop makes it hard for oppression to thrive. It stifles stereotypes, shrinks bias, expands perspective and opens communication. The PSN uses the following guidelines for creating safer spaces. These were developed by TransAction in 2010.
1. Respect your own physical, mental and emotional boundaries.
- Stay attuned to your own needs and remember that you are welcome to take space away from the group should you feel that you need time alone, or away from the group.
- If something doesn’t feel right to you, please speak up. You may not be the only one who feels that way.
- If you don’t want to talk or answer a question, say so, don’t wait for someone to “get the hint.” Try to vocalize what you need.
- Be assertive if possible. If you have a concern with someone, be direct.
2. Respect others’ physical, mental and emotional boundaries.
- Always ask for explicit verbal consent before engaging or touching someone. Never assume consent. It is important to remember that consent is not always implied, even with folks that one is typically very close to.
- Don’t assume the race, ethnicity, culture, sexuality, gender, history with violence etc. of others. Instead, ask if someone is open to engaging in dialogue about identity. Don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t want to answer a question.
- If at all possible, find out what pronouns people prefer or use neutral pronouns such as “they” or “z.”
- Respect the confidentiality of others. Respect the privacy of information, narratives and experiences that others share with you.
3. Assume Positive Intent
- We are all here to learn, and we all have something to offer.
- Clarifying questions are encouraged.
- Respect diverse opinions, beliefs, and points of view. Share ideas rather than judgments.
- Use ‘I’ statements as much as possible to state your reactions or your experiences to avoid attacking others when challenging them or engaging with them about mistakes that may have been made.
- Everyone (including you) will make unintentional mistakes.
- Be aware of the effects your behaviour has on others and accept responsibility for it.
- Expect to be challenged by others if you make a mistake.