Queen’s association works to create safe space for queer staff

QUAQE advocates for queer Queen’s staff members

QUAQE supports changing trans employees Net IDs for inclusion.
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Queen’s University Association for Queer Employees (QUAQE) works to create a space for employees to be themselves in their workplace. 

Alexandra Pederson, QUAQE co-founder, said the association has two goals: to advocate and to create a network for queer Queen’s employees.

“We’ve really been creating space to let people know that we are here and holding space open for others to let them know that there’s safe and accountable space for them to be out employees at Queen’s,” Pederson said in an interview with The Journal

Pederson said that not everyone is comfortable being openly queer in their workplace.

“There are some members who take on the face of QUAQE on behalf of others who may not feel safe or well respected enough in the workplace to be their authentic selves,” she said. 

With the support of Elliot Chapple, director (EDII) for the Faculty of Arts and Science, QUAQE educated senior management at Queen’s on how to facilitate safe spaces for queer employees. 

“Elliot on our behalf, as well as other queer members across campus, held a training workshop for senior level administrators at the university, after having interviewed a number of members at QUAQE, to understand what life looks like for us both in our staff roles as well as outside of them,” Pedersen said. 

QUAQE has raised many issues to University administration, including gender neutral bathrooms and changing Net IDs for trans employees. 

QUAQE hosts a monthly happy hour for queer employees and their families, usually on a patio. The social is a place for employees to find a community and raise their concerns. 

“We have been so disconnected from each other that before we can take on any further advocacy, or outreach kind of activities we are back to basics at building community [at Queen’s],” Pedersen said.

The 2021 Queen’s Campus Climate student survey showed trans and non-binary students  experienced more challenges compared to non-trans or non-binary students. 27 per cent of non-binary and Two Spirit students said they didn’t feel safe on campus.

READ MORE: Queen’s releases 2021 Campus Climate snapshot report

“If it is happening at the ground level for students it is most certainly happening at staff and faculty levels and further up,” Pedersen said. 

QUAQE was formalized three years ago. Pederson said that before QUAQE, there was a long line of queer individuals at Queen’s who built a foundation for the current association. 

“One of the reasons QUAQE exists as an employee resource group is so we can take up space to remind folks that LGBTQ2S+ folks are amongst equity deserving people and we deserve both support in the workplace, accommodations when needed, and consideration for our lives not following a heteronormative pathway.”

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