LGBT Safe Zone - LGBTQIA Healthcare Guild

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Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Campus Safe Zone

A SafeZone is a place where participants have completed a training workshop to increase awareness and sensitivity about sexual and gender concerns.  It is a place where all people can feel welcome and safe.  It may be a room, a car, or entire college campus.  It is important that institutions take proactive steps to create these safe and welcoming environments that promote teamwork and unity.  We live in a time of great change when it comes to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Conversations occur everywhere and run
the gamut from supportive to down right hostile. LGBT characters of all ages show up in movies and TV shows, yet we often hear disparaging and hateful remarks coming form political or religious leaders. Sadly, we have all heard the stories of young people taking their own lives rather then coping with the social stigma that remains when one identifies as LGBT.  The SafeZone program was created to develop, enhance and maintain environments in workplaces, schools and other social settings that are culturally competent and supportive to (LGBTQ) individuals, as well as straight identified people who care about diversity, equality and inclusion in the Western New York region.

Gay Alliance of Genessee Valley - Reasons Why Safe Zones are Necessary:

In Our Workplaces:

While progress is slowly being made to create more welcoming and inclusive workplaces for LGBT employees, there is still much to be done.  Below are some eye opening statistics from the 2009 Human Rights Campaign’s Degrees of Equality: A National Study Examining Workplace Climate for LGBT Employees.

  1. The majority of LGBT workers (51%) hide their identities to most of their coworkers.

  2. 58% of LGBT workers say someone at work makes a joke or derogatory comment about LGBT people at least once in a while.

  3. 80% of LGBT employees confront conversations involving spouses, relationships and dating at least once per week.

  4. 51% of LGBT employees say their employer rarely uses terms such as "partner" or "significant other" in communications.

  5. The vast majority of LGBT workers do not report instances when they hear an anti-LGBT remark to human resources or management. On average, 67 % ignore it or let it go, 9 % raise the issue with a supervisor and only 5 % go to human resources.

For many LGBT individuals, the work environment poses numerous threats and obstacles.  Derogatory comments go unchecked, exclusive language is used in workplace communications and energy that could be spent on working and creating healthy relationships with coworkers is instead spent on maintaining barriers, excusing themselves from social events and answering questions about their home lives evasively.  It is necessary for agencies and corporations to take proactive steps to create inclusive and safe environments so that all individuals are empowered to reach their full potential. 

In Our Schools:

The Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN’s) 2009 survey of 7,261 middle and high school students found that nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students experienced harassment at school in the past year and nearly two-thirds felt unsafe because of their sexual orientation.  Nearly a third of LGBT students skipped at least one day of school in the past month because of safety concerns.

Growing Up LGBT in America—the Human Rights Campaign’s 2012 research of more than 10,000 LGBT identified youth ages 13 to 17, illustrated how the deck is stacked against young people growing up LGBT.  Survey responses revealed that many LGBT youth are profoundly disconnected from their communities, in sometimes stark ways.  Youth who are out to their immediate family or at school report a higher likelihood to achieve several life goals compared to those who are not out, if asked to imagine their future while living in their current
city or town.

For LGBT students, faculty and staff the school environment poses numerous threats and obstacles. Hateful language, physical and emotional harassment and the threat of physical violence are a reality for many LGBT people.  It is necessary for institutions to take proactive steps to create an inclusive and safe environment so that all students, faculty and staff are empowered to reach their full potential, and to benefit the greater community. 

Campus Pride - Safe Spaces: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth:

Recent studies find that LGBT youth face bullying at a much higher rate than their straight peers and gender conforming peers, and are at increased risk for suicide. Without support, LGBT youth struggle interpersonally and academically. The authors illuminate these challenges as well as the triumphs of LGBT youth through compelling personal narratives from more than 100 LGBT individuals and allies. “SAFE SPACES” chronicles the lives of LGBT youth of all ages, weaving together recent news stories, research studies and public policy trends. Action Steps and Reflection Points are embedded throughout, offering readers positive and tangible ways to make their own homes, schools and communities more inclusive and welcoming of LGBT people.

Examples of Safe Zone Programs and Declarations:

University of California Davis - “The Safe Zone symbol is a message to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex (LGBTI) and Ally students and colleagues that this is a safe place where one may be open about their identity without fear.  This space hereby respects all people regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.  The person displaying this symbol has participated in a training workshop to increase his/her awareness and sensitivity to LGBT and ally issues and is one who can serve as a referral/resource person.”

From UC Davis LGBT Resource Center - You can download the Safe Zone and Trans Safe Zone packets by clicking on the links below. You are free to use the information provided, but please be sure to cite the sources accordingly.  Safe Zone packet downloads:  Safe Zone and Trans Safe Zone

University of Iowa - The Safe Zone Project is a campus-wide program that offers a visible message of inclusion, affirmation, and support to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people in the University community. Through this program, participants attend educational workshops to learn about the LGBTQ experience and campus/community resources. Participants may complete either one or two workshops. After completing the second workshop, participants receive a Safe Zone symbol to display in their work space.

The purpose of the Safe Zone Project is to identify members of the University community who will model support, affirmation, and inclusion of LGBTQ people. Participants who complete this program are choosing to be visible allies and to be trained to be effective resource people for their workplace and classroom. The Safe Zone Project is currently being redesigned and will consist of two phases. Phase I (2 hours) introduces the participants to basic LGBTQ terms and concepts, helps them develop an appreciation for the experiences of the LGBTQ people, and brings an overall awareness of LGBTQ issues. This foundational information will allow participants to begin thinking about how they can create a more inclusive environment on the UI campus. Completion of phase I training will prepare the participants to provide resources to LGBTQ people. Phase II (2 hours) is a case study-based, application-focused session. This session will provide participants with the tools they need to not only provide resources, but to become an active participant in making our campus a more supportive, inclusive, and affirming place for LBGTQ people. Completion of Phase II will result in becoming an identified Safe Zone Ally. The Safe Zone Project is open to all staff, faculty, and students who are committed to making the University of Iowa a safe environment for ALL of its members, including LGBTQ persons.

North Dakota State University - The Meaning of the Symbol: The pink triangle was worn by prisoners in Nazi Germany concentration camps to designate them as gay. The real story behind the pink triangle begins prior to World War II. Paragraph 175, a clause in German law, prohibited homosexual relations (much like many states in the U.S. today have laws against "crimes of nature"). In 1935, during Hitler's rise to power, he extended this law to include homosexual kissing, embracing, and even having homosexual fantasies. An estimated 25,000 people were convicted under this law between 1937 and 1939 alone. They were sent to prisons and later concentration camps. Their sentence also included sterilization, most commonly in the form of castration. In 1942, Hitler extended the punishment for homosexuality to death. The LGBTQ movement has since adopted the pink triangle both in memory of past oppression and as a symbol of hope for the future. The green circle serves the opposite effect of the popular red circle with a slash, denoting that it is ok to talk about LGBTQ issues wherever the symbol is displayed.  You can download the comprehensive training program at: Safe Zone

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