One of the more recent creations helping marginalized groups—Native Americans, African-Americans, LGBTQIA—is the “safe space.” Each “space” is considered a place where people can meet and talk in an environment free of judgement and harm.
Sounds innocent, right? Well, a few folks have decides there’s something wrong with a concept meant to help enforce safety.
Many safe spaces are meant for “certain people” to go to feel safe. Safe space denouncers say these areas are detrimental to critical conversation.
“I think this [safe spaces] is just a way of preventing people from coping with the difficult task of critical thinking,” Varda Meyers Epstein, parenting expert and writer at Kars4Kids, says.
Epstein and other people who don’t like the safe space concept just want everyone to accept that all individuals think differently. Participating in any debate allows people to better handle difficult topics.
“The best alternative to a safe space is to politely engage those we disagree with and if we cannot come to a place of mutual agreement, we should agree to disagree, even on stuff that makes us feel bad,” she adds.
The solution through education
The distortion of the real safe space definition is rampant. Sure, there are most likely some safe spaces that are exclusionary. However, anyone who hopes to further a marginalized group’s cause or increase that group’s safety would not think a truly exclusionary safe space is helpful.
“Safe spaces are dedicated to bringing like-minded people together who have felt some sort of distress,” Sarah Brown, community outreach coordinator from SafeWise, says.
“It’s similar to a club of people who like to do the same things except it’s for people who deal with similar issues. There are a lot of people who go through life feeling like they’ll never have a safe space. Creating one and sharing can be very healing.”
How can we—safe space enthusiasts, if you will—make sure positive safe spaces remain active and inclusive?
The way people change anything—through education.
Brown explains that a safe space can’t just be a group of people who are hanging out. These “safe” people need to get out into the community and educate others about inclusiveness.
“Society will never become more inclusive if we are constantly looking for ways to exclude each other,” she adds.
Through community engagement, like-minded people can help bridge the gap between different groups.