Origin of safe space
Words nearby safe space
ABOUT THIS WORD
What does safe space mean?
Where did safe space come from?
According to the 2001 book Mapping Gay L.A. by Moira Kenney, the term safe space can be traced back to the mid-1960s when it described gay and lesbian bars as places where allied people were able to gather free from attack. Though the LGBTQ community first used safe space, the term was soon adopted by the women’s movement in the 1960–70s, in reference to women coming together and occupying space in a communal and safe way.
In the early 1980s, safe space became increasingly used in educational institutions. Specific extracurricular groups at colleges or universities called themselves safe spaces and only permitted students who embodied certain traits (e.g., female students, students of color, students who identify as LGBT) to join. In 1987, author Anthony Fry called for safe spaces in broader professional and social organizations in his book Safe Space: How to Survive in a Threatening World.
Today, most institutions of higher learning generally consider themselves to be safe spaces in a conceptual way, meaning they encourage students to freely share their thoughts and ideas without fear of harassment or persecution. This type of educational safety is widely practiced in American post-secondary institutions.
In the fall of 2014, students at Brown University created a literal safe space on campus when there was a debate about campus sexual assault. Thinking that fellow students might find the debate upsetting, student volunteers arranged a room filled with cookies, pillows, and puppy videos where students who felt triggered could find asylum. The Brown safe space room propelled forth the idea of safe space as a place of escape for people who didn’t want their feelings hurt.
In 2015, activist students across America began seeking safe spaces on their campuses as havens from any offensive speech that could possibly provoke anyone. At the same time, the concept of safe spaces was becoming an increasing topic of public debate, notably after Yale students clashed with faculty over culturally insensitive Halloween costumes.
Google Trends shows searches for the term safe space spiking during the 2016 presidential election amid clashes between Trump supporters and their opponents on campuses, at rallies and protests, and other public places. Perhaps ironically at some universities, some pro-Trump students, associated with a campaign and candidate known for bigoted speech and criticizing political correctness, called for their own safe spaces, claiming marginalization from their more liberal peers.
Who uses safe space?
Educational institutions and some employers, such as Nokia, label their institutions as a safe space for their students or employees.
Other English-speaking countries outside of the US also have safe spaces. For instance, several Canadian universities have established “Positive Space Initiatives,” akin to the American safe space. In Australia, the Islamic Council of Victoria proposed funding that would allow Muslim students to gather in a safe space to discuss issues they are presently facing in Australian society.
Critics of the concept—notably a dean at the University of Chicago—contend that safe spaces are threats to the American constitutional right to freedom of speech. Because the term stemmed from traditionally liberal-leaning groups, the idea of a safe space in any context has been regarded as an idea concocted by politically correct liberal “snowflakes.”
In considering that a safe space can be any area—physical or conceptual—where like-minded people can bond and share their ideas without feeling as though they are being silenced or mocked, it is not surprising that there is confusion about the actual meaning of the term.
More examples of safe space:
“Grindr was a safe space for gay men. Its HIV status leak betrayed us.”
—Bryan Moylan, The Guardian (headline), April 2018
This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.
How to use safe space in a sentence
Caporal says Casa Frida is a safe space that also offers psychological support.Casa Frida becomes second home for Mexico City’s LGBTQ community|Yariel Valdés González|January 22, 2021|Washington Blade
This group is an outlet for LGBTQ people of color to talk and share in a safe space free of judgement.
These safe spaces are an attempt to leverage data sharing and get beyond data protectionism to benefit all parties.Deep Dive: Programmatic ends a strong 2020 as CTV, OTT and data privacy loom large in early 2021|Jessica Rapp|January 5, 2021|Digiday
The trick will be determining how to create safe spaces for people who need repetition, quiet spaces and the certainty of where they will be sitting, alongside the needs of those who thrive off being around other people.Remote working spotlights neurodiversity challenges|Jessica Davies|December 21, 2020|Digiday
Create a safe space Before enticing birds to your home, determine whether it’s a good idea since you’ll be responsible for managing their habitat, even if it’s just a feeder.
And it must make sure that the platform of debate where we can freely exchange ideas is safe and sound.Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Our Duty Is to Keep Charlie Hebdo Alive|Ayaan Hirsi Ali|January 8, 2015|DAILY BEAST
They called for peace, reconciliation, and the safe return of Father Gregorio.
Their leader, Njie, still going by “Dave” during the operation, would stay a safe distance away until the State House was secure.The Shadowy U.S. Veteran Who Tried to Overthrow a Country|Jacob Siegel|January 6, 2015|DAILY BEAST
“We wish each and every one of you a happy and safe new year,” Giorgio said at the very end.
There was Carol White, a ho-hum homemaker who finds herself besieged by multiple chemical sensitivity in Safe.
A desultory conversation on politics, in which neither took the slightest interest, was a safe neutral ground.The Pit Town Coronet, Volume I (of 3)|Charles James Wills
The governor of the fortress was provided with a safe residence in Egypt, and an annual pension of 75,000 piasters.The Every Day Book of History and Chronology|Joel Munsell
Could this be the safe old house in which childish days had passed, in which all around were always friendly and familiar faces?Checkmate|Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
The truth is, it is not safe to trot down such mountains and hardly to ride down them at all.Glances at Europe|Horace Greeley
What reliance could repose upon a house, divided against itself—not safe from the extravagance and pillage of its own members?