Safe Spaces: Still needed, Still important 

This arm is my arm, it is not yours. Up here I have a right to strike out with it as I please. I go over there with these gentlemen and swing my arm and exercise the natural right which you have granted; I hit one man on the nose, another under the ear, and as I go down the stairs on my head, I cry out:

“Is not this a free country?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Have not I a right to swing my arm?”

“Yes, but your right to swing your arm leaves off where my right not to have my nose struck begins.”

John B Finch, oration, Iowa City, 1882

The pain. Ah, the pain when the world swings to the right and the unholy alliance of Donald Trump and Katie Hopkins acts as a clarion call for majority groups for whom free speech is being censored, minority groups are in the back yard and something about “robust, healthy debate”. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

The concept of the safe space was born in a different time, I know this.  Borne of early LGBT and feminist movements, the safe space became a comforting hub for people who had suffered at the hands of those who at best disagreed with LGBT or feminist lifestyles, and at worst, had been attacked, publicly abused or physically assaulted by those who wished to see alternate lifestyles eradicated.  Over time, the safe space has been used extensively on university campuses to protect the vulnerable. High profile cases of speakers being turned away because they might offend mean that the safe space has been ridiculed as a politically-correct mechanism to censor viewpoints and to bring down free speech.  Safe spaces create marshmallow students who fail to learn what it means to exist in a big, bad world.

This is all very hard on a girl that is known colloquially as ‘Red Bennie’ – a girl that attended one of the most left-wing universities in the country and grew into an adult learning about liberation groups and safe spaces.  I was fascinated.  For the first time in my life, I was surrounded by debate and thought about identity and society. My goodness, it takes my breath away how lovely it was being young and fired up – and safe enough to be amongst those who had opinions about what was right and good and fair.

I supported the ‘No Platform For Fascists’ policy at Warwick Students’ Union.  Who did we prevent from appearing?  Far-right speakers from all walks of life – people who we believed didn’t care for the debate, only the publicity.  People who had a track record of saying awful things and we said no to that on our space.  Not because we don’t want a debate, not because we were scared of it or offended, but because we shared a common belief.  We disapproved.  And that was our choice. But we didn’t just decide, we debated.  We thought.

There is a brilliant article on Al-Jazeera America on the issue of safe spaces on college campuses – you can find it here.  In the meantime, one sentence really rings out as true for me: “But what all these critiques get wrong is that they assume “safe” means homogeneous in thought. The reality is that these safe spaces are actually brimming with debate; for many minority students, they are the first place where anyone has ever let them speak about their experiences.”

But for me, the safe space was not about censorship, it was about protection.  It was about providing a different space to the one outside the walls where people swinging their fists didn’t care who they were smacking.

And I knew I wasn’t even someone who needed that safe space the most.  I learned very quickly that a woman who has been raped might not want to debate whether the length of her skirt determined her fate.  I learned that the trans student who was assaulted on his way home didn’t want to debate whether he was really a man or a woman.  I understood that the black student who put up up with people touching her hair “just to see what it feels like” didn’t want to listen to the validity of the term ‘micro-aggression’.  I know that the Muslim student spat at on the bus might not want to listen to a speaker from Britain First in the interests of healthy debate.

It is all too easy for people who have never faced any of these things to paint safe spaces as mollycoddling bubbles in which students are not allowed to debate difficult things because it might hurt their feelings, or worse, offend them.  If you feel the need to mock the concept of or complain about safe spaces, I don’t want to generalise, but chances are, you’ve never felt the need for one.

Who are these students, preventing college campuses being a healthy platform for debate?  How dare they create an environment in which they study without the white noise of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia?  Those who decry safe spaces as being cotton wool for the masses forget one really quite important thing. The LGBT community, the BAME community, the trans community – women – we all know about the problems in the big wide world.  We spend half our lives trying to find ways to shield ourselves from the views imposed on us by the media, by what people deem cultural truisms with any grounding in fact.

Universities are home to many students. Believe it or not, sometimes university is the only escape young people have from difficult backgrounds and difficult histories.  It is a space that rescues as well as educates.  And remember, education is something university students choose – that’s what makes it brilliant.  And some students choose not to engage with things that upset them whilst navigating their educational paths.  What’s wrong with that?  It doesn’t make them any less of a physicist, or computer scientist, or psychology student. When university is home – making that space an open forum for all can feel uncomfortable when you know all too well what the world thinks of you already.

Let’s not forget what free speech can be. In my time at university, I was well aware of free speech as a right and I was well aware of people who exercised that right without concern for the impact on others.  I went on a flyering campaign against the BNP in Tipton Green, a boarded-up shadow of a small town where the BNP were promising to reopen the Library, to bring jobs back to the former industrial town and all sorts of other things. I engaged in debate with a builder who had particularly strong views on immigration.  When I asked him what his solution was, he replied: “I don’t have one really, I think it would be best if we just lined them up by the sea and shot them down.”

He was quite pleasant while he said it.  He then said he wasn’t a racist because his girlfriend was black.  So I went back to my safe space.

I made a decision early in my career about what school should be for my students.  So my classroom is a safe space.  It isn’t one in the traditional sense – everyone is allowed to be there, but micro-aggressions, assumptions and triggers are discussed, defined, questioned.  Do I shut down some discussions?  Yes, because if they go on to cause someone distress, my classroom is not the place for that.  The world is hard enough without me being a lightning rod for the school of hard knocks.

I live in hope that by seeing university students make the decisions they do, my own students will be witness to a model of debate – where to discuss and vote on the presence of controversial figures in our circles is right and good and fair.  If the answer is no, that person cannot speak for these reasons, then let my students see that their right to swing their fists ends when they hit someone else’s nose.

I want to laugh a little when I hear majority groups belittling safe spaces.  And then I want to smash things a little bit.  I always calm down eventually.

Because let’s not forget that safe spaces for majority groups also exist and have existed for many years.  What is a gentleman’s club if not a safe space for the white, heterosexual male?  What is the boardroom throughout history?  What is parliament before the vote was extended to women?

You’ve had your safe spaces, now let us have ours.

 

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67 comments

  1. teachwell

    Why do universities have to create this space? Isn’t this simply a private need that can be met privately? Where there are clubs – some already have exclusive membership anyway – e.g. BME societies, so presumably when they gather for members only events they already are in a place where they can speak to each other. If other’s attempt to disrupt proceedings there are internal university rules that enables them to act against the person.

    The need for safe spaces against the ‘white noise’ of racism, sexism, homophobia is an issue because of the paranoid assumptions behind the idea of ‘white noise’ in the first place. If one looks for racism in everything and everywhere then one can indeed find it or twist and manipulate words, stories and meanings to suit ones purpose.

    There is nothing in your argument that actually evidences the need for a safe space, it is simply a circular argument stating a safe space is needed because those who argue for it need a safe space.

    I would object less to these ideas if it weren’t for the coopting of millions of voices of BME, women, LGBQT without consent. You are using the fact that we exist as support for your arguments and if one disagrees, as many do, then they are shot down by people like yourself for daring to have their own ideas or supporting hegemony so I find the idea that safe spaces contain much discussion hard to believe. Take the Why is my Curriculum White campaign. Their facebook group explicitly states that it is and that one can’t join their group unless one subscribes to the idea. What debate is going on then?

    Many theories and ideas of the world prove incorrect because the assumptions are incorrect. I would say your assumptions are based on the views of a vocal, agitated, angry minority who are determined to justify their own prejudice in light of that of the past. Your last sentence is telling ‘You’ve had your safe spaces, now let us have ours.’

    My mother used to say as a child that just because others did the wrong thing didn’t mean it justified my doing it too. Unfortunately, that is all there is coming from those who support safe spaces – wrongs justified by the wrongs that others have done in the past.

    • debrakidd

      The article gives a number of examples in which someone might feel the need for a safe space. This is not a circular argument. You seem to be suggesting that because you don’t feel the need for one, that no-one else is entitled to theirs – and so you do what you accuse Bansi of in claiming to speak for others. You accuse those who disagree with you of immaturity, undermining their concerns, portraying them as a deranged minority and in doing so, attempt to elevate your own position to one of moral superiority in which anyone who is upset or traumatised is simply unreasonable. This is a fairly hypocritical and insular position to adopt. You create your own safe space every time you block someone on twitter for example – an action I notice you do frequently when people disagree with you. That is your right and I don’t think anyone should challenge you for doing so. But having taken the opportunity offered to you by Twitter to create that space, it is deeply ironic that you question the right for others to find their own space, in whatever form that might take.

      • teachwell

        Bansi’s argument is clear, coherent but in my opinion it is circular – I need a safe space because I need a safe space. There does not appear to be any circumstances under which this will change that have been outlined. Neither do you.

        “undermining their concerns”

        I don’t accept, or have to accept, the reasons given as genuine concerns. The fact that people are referring to ‘microaggressions’ is IMO an attempt to grasp at any proof of racism, sexism, etc.

        “portraying them as a deranged minority”

        Have done no such thing. I’ll hand it to you, you twist and manipulate words with ease, so immaturity becomes deranged. Not the same thing at all. Your words, your assumptions, your ideas. Nothing to do with me.

        “and in doing so, attempt to elevate your own position to one of moral superiority”

        No just disagree and this is another example of how you manipulate what has been said or base it on your vivid imagination when you could have asked me to clarify the position.

        “in which anyone who is upset or traumatised is simply unreasonable.”

        People get upset, sometimes it is reasonable and other times it is not. I am not about to legitimise my own upset each and every time for that precise reason.

        As for traumatised – if you mean it in the true sense of the word, then what that person needs is actually counselling or help with their mental health. I believe I was ‘traumatised’ by my marriage – I went to seek support and help both personally and professionally. I do not believe for a second that a safe space is required in that instance. It is not the fault of every man that it happened, every white woman does not need to account for the racist nonsense my ex-mother in law came out with and society does not owe it to me to add trigger warnings on anything and everything that contains some reference to divorce. However, I should and did have access to appropriate help and support, especially as we know this is a traumatic experience to go through. How is it appropriate to deal with mental health issues in this manner? How is it healthy?

        For the record – you blocked me. Now do you know who I have or have not blocked, with what frequency and for what reason? I find it disturbing that someone who blocks me then follows me closely anyway.

        Oh and if you think that you are some sort of role model then obviously I should take every word that may have a negative connotation in your reply, write it down, take a picture of it and spread it all over twitter as how you described me regardless of whether or not that is the case.

        Entitled to a safe space? That is up for debate whether you like it or not.

  2. governingmatters

    I am a BAME woman. My parents lived in Leeds in the 60’s. So, I feel I can say that I don’t understand the need for safe spaces. When anyone says that they are accused of not seeing the need for these because of their “privilege”. What privilege do I have or did my parents have? Is everyone allowed a safe space and if so I’d like a safe space because of people who object to my objections to safe places.

    • EdStateswoman

      I’m glad you don’t feel the need for one. Unfortunately it seems this is another case of ‘it didn’t happen to me so we don’t need it’. Should we rid ourselves of charities, unions, the welfare state?

      • governingmatters

        I never said I didn’t “need”one therefore don’t have them. I thought I made it clear that as a BMAE Muslim woman and as a child of parents who saw it first hand in the 60’s I know and have experienced racism and sexism. I just don’t want a safe space to talk about these no rather debate them in the open with everyone. It’s also interesting that if you debate the idea of safe spaces some people automatically assume that you are privileged, that you don’t/haven’t experienced racism or sexism.

  3. mainstreansen

    I think if someone feels the need for a safe space then that’s fine. It’s the ‘need’ which is important surely? For me the important part of Bennie’s blog was the ability to have rich debate without constantly having to battle with stereotypical arguments (possibly embedded with privilege). It’s very tiring and time consuming to want to discuss issues while constantly defending your right to have them. Of course there should be forums for this but sometimes it’s nice to begin from a general consensus and expand the debate from there. If you have people who deny the safe group ethos in the first place they are not going to allow more nuanced debate – that space therefore is in a different arena.

    • chocotzar

      Agreed. The debate itself is being undermined by those arguing that the debate is irrelevant. It can’t be irrelevant if we still feel the need to discuss.

      • teachwell

        The only people who are deeming the debate irrelevant are the ones for safe spaces by refusing to deal with the points made by those who oppose. This happens time and time again. Victim status is adopted and the charge of privilege is launched. The sheer level of immaturity is breathtaking. We live in a mixed society, anyone who is too immature to understand that really is too immature for university.

  4. chocotzar

    When your existence is drenched in the hate of others then it is essential that there is somewhere safe to be; somewhere you can explore who you are without being told who you are. There is kindness and empathy is the internal debate and this allows thought to grow; simply criticised you can become more entrenched in your views.

    This is not the same as a club whose members are collectively holding their privilege to them to keep it out of others’ hands.

    We are not yet in a position to be without these safe spaces but like you Bennie, I hope we are soon.

  5. EquitableEd

    Ironic reading some of the comments on here against safe spaces. Their reactions justify the current need for them.

  6. Diane Leedham

    Firstly, thank you for writing this Bennie. It took courage and integrity and my Twitter time line this morning has recognised and validated this. I am really looking forward to seeing your writing develop into an article for Media Diversified so you can reach a wider audience.

    Secondly, I think it is easy to be derailed from core issues such as how to effect change and improve social equity into much less relevant non problems. For example, universities and their spaces are governed by written constitutions and protocols and the formation of student groups and the use of uni controlled public spaces by those groups is not subject to random whim. Nor is it outside the current law of the land. That alone should be quite sufficient to prevent Swastika sit ins on a safe space ticket. Let us move on. It also certainly used to be the case that a university society which seeks to use a university space for meeting is required to be affiliated and formally recognised by the university. That brings with it the requirement for a constitution and aims and agendas and minutes … accountability and monitoring for what the space is to be used for. ‘Who decides’ in terms of whether this usage is acceptable or not is defined by 1. the law 2. the written constitution of the university and its protocols for administrating this constitution. I am not as young as I was but I find it hard to imagine that all these systems and structures have been jettisoned. If the increasingly normalised hostility to the concept of safe spaces derived purely from such concerns it would be pretty easily assuaged.

    The core issues are naturally more complex but insofar as we are discussing public spaces and the validation given a group by the provision of such space, the underlying principle of purpose and accountability still applies. It’s a simple enough question – why do you want to meet and why do you want to define your space in such a way that it excludes x, or y or z ? For example, I don’t personally have any issues with all male groups in university spaces, white or otherwise, provided their constitution and purpose/s are transparent and meet (or purposefully caveat) EDI in ways which can be monitored. However, if a group of lads want to hang out together to have food fights and tell misogynistic jokes then no force on this earth will stop them – beyond peer disapproval and, one hopes, education- but they can find their own room for shenanigans off site and then either clear up after themselves or pay the damages. ( I do have a very specific legacy example from college in mind here – boats were involved). Equally, that’s my opinion as I write and as Bennie pointed out in her blog, there is no homogeneity of view to be assumed in this area. Each case needs robust group interrogation on its merits. Back to constitution and protocols and diverse discussion.

    Aspects of hostility to safe spaces that I notice are 1. resentment from those feeling excluded from the conversation 2. a blanket desire to close down safe space opportunities by those who don’t want them. Expressed advocacy of these views often outweighs both empathy and common sense. Bennie has already given very pertinent examples but to riff further – if there were a group of guys who requested a safe space to discuss domestic violence – as witnesses, victims … maybe even aggressors – then, as in my example above, I would want to know there were checks and balances in place but I would be way too pleased that the issue was being tackled to want to enforce ‘my right’ as a woman to go along. It doesn’t take much empathy for me to work out why my presence might inhibit honesty and reflection. If I had experienced domestic violence myself and felt excluded from the chance of discussing it with peers, I could try to have my own group. It could be an all female group or it could be mixed. Intersectionality might or might not be significant in its constitution. If I had a female group I might consider liaison with the all male group to see if a joint meeting might be productive at any stage – maybe shared themes have come up and a speaker might be useful ? Or I might prefer not to discuss this issue in a group at all. Another example. If a group of guys want to have an all male tiddleywinks club then they are also going to have to justify that. They might of course be manufacturing a plausible reason for a laugh or to make a libertarian point – or there may be a valid reason. But either way they would have to sort out their constitution and their agendas and their minutes and their yearly report and turn up to use the room regularly to play tiddleywinks and experience a few informal drop ins .. they would have to have a lot of stamina to keep doing that, year after year just for bants and to annoy the feminists. I think it’s a risk worth taking. Wherever this hypothetical set of possibilities might go, it is hard to see the gain in banning such university sanctioned safe spaces in the interests of generic ‘debate’ or because you don’t see why somebody else should want to go. And if you aren’t the constituency of the group why would you want to go anyway?

    These issues are live for me personally in terms of my own life decisions. I spend a lot of time in discussion (both online and in real life) with PoC in interactions with racialised identities as their explicit focus (PoC is the majority preference in the groups I refer to). I have rarely encountered a defined ‘safe space’ which excluded me as a white woman so I have had my own choices to make – to participate, to listen, to leave (or not go/join in in the first place). I haven’t always made a good call on these choices and I have learned to be a much better listener and to think/ask before jumping in and risk whitesplaining as a result. Context is very important. I’m startled that anybody would get affronted by the concept of, for example, a black women’s group which respectfully draws my attention to the fact that, on this occasion, white allies will not help the conversation. If I were to muscle your way into that conversation in that space on the basis of entitlement then I definitely should not be in there at all – for reasons of empathy and humility alone. Maybe that’s the better question. Instead of asking ‘why can’t I go in, I’m entitled’ ask ‘why do you prefer me not to come in and I’ll work at understanding that’.

    A whole other set of aligned points relating to platforming/non platforming could be made, not to mention ramifications for schools and young people …. but Bennie has done such a good job already. I’m done. Thanks again Ms K. You are a superstar

  7. W. S. Lien

    This is slightly irrelevant, but the issue of race is nonetheless an underlining issue in the question of creating a “safe space” in the light of recent publicity of the “Rhodes statue” controversy and Letwin’s racist comment made in the 19880s. My story may serve to highlight a different issue – the importance of equality education at a young age, in school for instance.

    This is my story:

    You don’t need to call me a Cxxxk to be a racist

    “Stink, stink, stink like a Cxxxk,” a stranger muttered as I walked down the largely deserted platform at Crewe Station. It was in the early 90s. I had just arrived in the UK as a postgraduate student. That was the first time – as far as I was aware of – when I was a direct target of racism.

    There seemed to be no obvious reason for this stranger to use racist language against me apart from my ethnicity – unmistakably oriental – which he quickly identified as “Chinese” (I could well have been Japanese or Korean). Or perhaps, there were real reasons for his hostility, I don’t know, and that was beside the point. Nevertheless, as a recipient of such a random verbal abuse, I was struck by his xenophobic attitude. I had heard of racial discrimination, but I had been fortunate enough not to have encountered it. I had regarded the UK a country relatively free of it – until it hit me between my eyes.

    I was new to this country. I was alone. I had little experience outside the safety of my university campus. I certainly did not have the courage or language to challenge his behaviour. So, I did nothing. The whole incident passed as unnoticed as it took place.

    In the ten plus years of being a teacher in various schools in two counties (one south, one north), I have had to deal with three incidents when students used racist language against another individual – me.

    Shocking? Not really. As an ethnic minority member in predominately caucasian schools, I developed a keen ear to listen out for “typical” noises that were used to express prejudice against me on account of my racial origin. Trust me, I am not being over-sensitive. Over the years, I have learned to distinguish between innocuous utterance and a racially-motivated one. Believe me, unless you are in a similar position, you are unlikely to encounter this kind of behaviour, though verbal abuses can be based on other factors, too. Likewise, I have also learned only to reprehend the offenders when the margin for misidentification is at a minimum. Some children may be blunt in their ignorant behaviour, others are more insidious in their approaches. I have also realised the importance of addressing only the behaviour, not the person, however disagreeable the individual is. I know the serious ramifications that being labelled a “racist” can have on a young child.

    On each occasion, I challenged the perpetrator(s) as the incident took place, on the corridor or in the playground. I told them what I heard and took them to either the Head of Year or another member of staff, usually someone from the Middle or Senior Management Teams. In the presence of another member of staff, I explained to them how their remarks or noises could be interpreted as racist behaviour and that we dealt with this type of incident extremely seriously at school. On each occasion, they were given the chance to explain themselves and opportunity to right their wrongs by means of apologising. They needed to learn to recognise their offence and take full responsibility for their behaviour. After each incident, I hoped that they would not do it again – to anybody.

    Though I felt powerless to do anything to address the situation at Crewe Station in the early 1990s, I feel I can now at least use my position as a teacher to create a place where every student in my care feel safe enough to be themselves regardless of their racial origins, sexual orientations or gender identification.

    A line has to be drawn between promotion of hatred and the freedom of speech. There are points when the line is crossed from intellectual debate to hate speech – the latter is a criminal act.

    • Diane Leedham

      I suddenly noticed that nobody had responded to this piece Vincent and I wanted to say thank you for sharing your experiences. I am always humbled by the clarity and generosity of your vision. It is something to aspire to.

      It is moving to observe how this blog is weaving together so many multi faceted ‘lived stories’ of the kind you later tweeted about. https://twitter.com/fratribus/status/682316698469404674 I would like to add one more which I think is pertinent to your comment but in another context and in a situation which offered very little recourse at the time for the narrator. It belongs to a student who did not experience university as a safe space which had serious consequences for him at the time. the student is someone else I feel very privileged to have met via Twitter and then in real life and a collation/mediation of what happened is here. http://www.slideshare.net/JasonHaye Many threads from Bennie’s post intersect . Whether or not this fully conveys in the slideshare I don’t know but you will have to take my word for it, knowing you both, that his creativity, kindness and wisdom form a strong bond between you in my mind. I have learned a lot from you both. In relation to this link from Jason, I gained a journey of understanding as to why what seemed ‘a detail to get over’ from the majority group think perspective, was in reality such a trigger for derailment.

      I wanted to add the links as ‘curatorial connections’ to Bennie’s blog post anyway. I hope readers find them useful.

      There is a positive outcome of sorts in that the university is now making slow progress towards better EDI – with somewhat renewed motivation after it realised there had been an impact on its applications following negative publicity!

      • EquitableEd

        I would also like to thank Vincent for sharing his personal experience of teaching. Based on my considerable experience of working with a range of schools and coming across a number of BAME teachers, this is an issue that has been shared with me on many an occasion. I think Vincent’s post offers practical assistance to those who experience similar situations.

        Diane, thank you for adding to the debate and sharing the unfortunate experience of Jason. Jason’s slideshow ( link shared in in your comment) very clearly takes you through his own story and exemplifies the need for safe spaces in such instances.

  8. mattyoung1967

    Thank you Bennie for writing this very well considered, thoughtful piece on a subject that I have been thinking about since the original articles were published in November. One of which you highlight in your piece.
    Having considered everything I have read and all the comments attached to your blog, I am still of the opinion that the points you raise here are all valid at this moment in time.
    Thank you again for sharing your thoughts with such clarity today.

  9. debrakidd

    I once sat and listened to a very clever man, reeling off lots of references to the work of psychologists I’d never heard of, tell me in a calm and kindly tone, that I had probably unconsciously been responsible for the sustained sexual abuse I suffered as a child. He knew more than me, so I shut up. His tone made it clear that I really had no reason to be offended. This was just debate – theory. Isn’t it interesting. So I listened and nodded and cried when I got home. I should have punched him in the face. Reading some of the comments on this thread – intellectual, calm, patronising and deliberately insulting – I’m very much reminded of him.

    • Diane Leedham

      Thank you for your trust and candour in sharing this painful example in such a public forum Debra. I only ‘know’ you online so I don’t know how raw this memory still is or how hard it was for you to add it to this thread. And I respect your privacy so I’m not going to ask! But it made me think very hard. I am about to add another example of a ‘narrative of disparagement’ in a response to Vincent’s piece – which may interest you if you have not seen it before – but there are synergies for me between your experience and that of the Uni of Columbia students. The original link is here http://columbiaspectator.com/opinion/2015/04/30/our-identities-matter-core-classrooms It’s worth reading what the students actually wrote since the issues were later massively, and possibly maliciously, misreported by MSM. For example. when the book list rotated, as book lists are wont to do in any syllabus, there was much fevered excitement about Ovid being ‘banned’. It didn’t happen of course – but why ruin a good story and an opportunity for a rant! If you have not seen the article before I hope you enjoy and find worthwhile.

      • debrakidd

        Thank you Di – I’ll have a read. And don’t worry – I’ve come out reasonably unscathed I think! Though I do get irritated by people who have never properly needed somewhere to retreat, questioning the need. Lucky them, I say! Have a lovely new year x

    • EquitableEd

      Debra really appreciate you sharing such a personal experience to illustrate the valid points made in Bennie’s post.

    • EquitableEd

      That is grossly unfair and hypocritical considering both you and your colleague have made personal comments in response to this post.

  10. jordyjax

    Di has directed me to this post and it has made me delve beneath soundbites and facile headlines to ponder on what safe spaces are and should be. I feel we have adopted an easy intolerance to the bullying and disrespect that is rife in education and society in general. One tweeter reported two of her son’s 17 year old school friends had recently committed suicide. Now I don’t know why this happened but maybe if they had been given a safe space their lives could have been saved. Free speech and robust debate may mean that the fragile and unwell fall by the wayside, unconscious collateral in the hurly burly of modern life. To detractors I would respectfully ask….is there any generation of children who have been so routinely exposed to ridicule, bullying and harassment, outside of wartime, than our youngsters who face a barrage of ill- judged and spiteful attacks via social media? In my day I was bullied but could walk away and I was certainly safe in my own home! No wonder we need safe spaces for our teens in the wider world!

    Thanks for highlighting the issues and let’s hope we can have a grown-up debate!

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