What is Safer Zone?
The Safer Zone Training, through education, advocacy, visibility, and skill development, supports faculty and staff to become allies for glbtqtqi (Q) students and colleagues. The Training is designed to radically reduce prejudice and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression at the University of Washington Tacoma campus and create a safe and affirming campus.
The Safer Zone symbol provides a message to Q students and colleagues that the person displaying the symbol is a person who has completed the Safer Zone training, has decided to be an active and visible ally, can be trusted to maintain confidentiality, and will respond to the individual with understanding, support, and empathy. If a Q student seeks help, advice, or just someone with whom s/he/ze can talk, s/he/ze can expect to be met with openness and respect.
The Purpose and History of Safer Zone
Often non-glbtqtqi (straight) people are called on to be advocates for Q people on campus. Some will have few skills or resources available to them to guide their own development and/or help others become advocates for our Q communities. Yet, non-Q staff, students, and faculty can significantly impact the campus culture by becoming allies around the issues of sexual and gender orientation/expression.
Heterosexual allies are people who are supportive of Q folks, aware of the issues impacting our communities, and are people who actively create Q-friendly spaces. Washington and Evans (1991, p. 195) define an ally as “a person who is a member of the dominant or majority group who works to end oppression in his or her personal and professional life through support of, and as an advocate with and for, the oppressed population.” Allies of different groups of people (race, ethnicity, class, gender, religion, etc.), have been instrumental in affecting positive change in the dominant culture.
A number of college and universities have implemented educational interventions with names such as SAFE on Campus, Safe Zone, Safe Space, Safe Harbor, and Safe Zone Campus. The hallmark of these “Safe” programs is the public identification of allies by placing a “Safe” symbol, usually incorporating a pink triangle or rainbow, on office doors or within living spaces.
* Adapted from the University of Washington Q Center webpage
Sara Contreras | firstname.lastname@example.org | 253-692-4776 | WCG 102