Safe Zone: Activating Active Allyship
Straight people are not the only allies for the LGBTQ community. Everyone who falls under the LGBTQ umbrella can be active allies for one another. Safe Zone training can help make that happen.
Safe Zone is a campus-wide program designed to educate students, faculty, and staff on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) identities and experiences. During a Safe Zone workshop, participants learn language that relates to the LGBTQ community, identify some of the issues facing LGBTQ individuals on campus, and develop skills for being an ally to LGBTQ people.
“The LGBTQ umbrella is broad, so there are lots of communities underneath — people of different sexual orientations and gender identities, of course, but also people of different races, ethnicities, ages, social classes, etc. There are lots of opportunities for allyship,” says Kim Creasap, director of the Office of Gender & Sexuality.
Safe Zone workshops offer a judgement-free zone for asking questions and practicing things — like using gender neutral pronouns. Participants also learn about resources both on and off campus for students who identify as LGBTQ.
Andrea Rodriguez, a community advisor (CA) for first-year students says, “It’s important to be Safe Zone trained as a CA because by having the proper training we are knowledgeable in providing students with the proper resources/care. In the long run, we are helping create a more harmonious community to build each other up.”
Following completion of the introductory Safe Zone workshop, participants are invited to be a part of the Safe Zone Network – a visible network of students, faculty, and staff who have taken the Safe Zone workshop and are committed to implementing the knowledge they gained in building a more inclusive campus community. These individuals can be identified by a Safe Zone postcard on their doors.
“Research consistently shows us that a visible network of support is key to showing LGBTQ students that they belong on campus,” says Creasap, “Although putting up a postcard might seem like a small gesture, it can have a big impact.”
Similarly, Cassandra Fleming ’19, a CA for first-year students says, “As a student staff member it is especially important as a member of the Denison community to be responsible for being both inclusive and accepting. The impact of this training is that residents can feel comfortable, safe, respected, and at home.”