Finding a Voice: Place & Queer Student Health at the University of Saskatchewan
Within recent years, there has been a growth of interest in both queer health and geographies of sexualities. However, the majority of this research has focused on both queer health and use of space as they related to sexual activity, sex-related health risks, and desire, while overlooking those aspects of both queer identity and health that are not directly tied to sexual activity. This study addresses these gaps within the literature by studying queer health using the lens of place. The objective of this study is to understand how self-identified queer students at the University of Saskatchewan negotiated space and in particular, safe spaces, in their daily lives, and how this negotiation affected their health and well-being. This research was conceptually guided by ideas within feminist thought and queer theory. The study took place in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and included a group of five University of Saskatchewan undergraduate and certificate students who self-identified as queer. Participants were recruited through advertisements posted both online and throughout the campus. Data were collected through an action research approach with methods that included individual interviews, group meetings, and Photovoice. Results of the study include a list of elements that participants used to label safe spaces and lists of common safe spaces and safe areas on the University of Saskatchewan campus and throughout Saskatoon. Participants in this study emphasized the relationship between the people who made regular use of a space, its overall "feel," and their familiarity with the space with its level of safety, while also making it clear that queer was not always synonymous with safe. These findings yield insight into the process that individuals use to mentally label space and the subsequent ways in which this labelling influences use of space and, on a broader level, reflects individual and group identity. This raises some important questions about current definitions and ideas regarding safe spaces and provides a foundation for future research.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
DepartmentCommunity Health and Epidemiology
ProgramCommunity and Population Health Science
CommitteeDowne, Pam; Hanson, Lori; Lawson, Karen
Copyright DateApril 2013