Univ Ala Bham
SAFE ZONE PROGRAMS
Providing Safe Spaces on Campus
WHY SAFE ZONES?
Typically, Safe Zone programs are found on university and college campuses; however they are also found in high schools, in some churches and communities, and in some businesses and workplaces. Safe Zones provide safe spaces that are highly visible and easily identifiable to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons, where support and understanding is the key and where bigotry and discrimination are not tolerated.
Safe Zones are commonly identified as "ally" programs, where members of the LGBT community receive support from and work together with heterosexual supporters, friends and allies.
A number of college and universities have implemented educational interventions with names such as Safe Zone, Safe Space, Safe Harbor, and Safe On 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.
Student affairs professionals, administrators, and faculty only recently have begun to recognize the potential the development of heterosexual allies has for making the culture of a college or university campus more tolerant towards gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students. Program interventions designed specifically for allies, such as Safe Zone, address the development of heterosexual allies while providing support to LGBT students. Typical components of these ally programs consist of a resource manual and sticker or sign. Some programs require an orientation or training session. Other components may include a listserv, advisory board/committee, web page resources, and periodic social and educational events.
“If you are not personally free to be yourself in that most important of all human activities… the expression of love… then life itself loses its meaning.”
Safe Zone Mission
Safe Zone's purpose is to reduce homophobia and heterosexism on campus and thereby to make the campus a safer and freer environment for all members of the community regardless of sexual orientation. Individual students and faculty and staff members are trained to serve as resources for members of the campus community who are interested in thinking through and becoming more knowledgeable about diversity of sexual orientation.
Safe Zone’s purpose is to provide a safe space or area where members of the campus or community can show their support for individuals affected by homophobia, harassment, hate, and sexual violence.
By placing a Safe Zone symbol on their door or showing the symbol to others, Safe Zone allies signify that their office, classroom, or workspace is a safe place for LGBT individuals to be themselves, without fear of judgment. When they see the symbol, LGBT students and clients know that they will be respected and affirmed and that they can talk about personal issues without guarding or editing their language.
“There will not be a magic day when we wake up and it’s now okay to express ourselves publicly. We make that day by doing things publicly until it’s simply the way things are.”
Fostering a Safe Environment
It is the belief of Safe Zone programs that all learning and work environments should be safe and free of discrimination, prejudice, and harassment.
The objective of Safe Zone programs is to make it possible to easily identify individuals who are empathetic and informed about LGBT issues, and who are willing and able to provide support, information, and confidentiality.
Safe Zone programs seek to educate and raise awareness within the community. They seek to address ignorance about and promote tolerance of people with alternate lifestyles. They seek to foster an environment that is more supportive and comfortable for all people.
The Safe Zone program is a symbol of a community’s efforts to increase awareness and acceptance of the LGBT community.
"I'm proud that I was one of the first ones out, singing loud and proud.”
Guiding Assumptions of Safe Zone
Safe Zone programs are established on the basis of certain guiding assumptions:
Discussing feelings is important to understanding the issues of difference and diversity. Creating a sense of safety is important so that feelings can be shared.
Heterosexism is a form of oppression, like racism. It leads to discrimination, prejudice, harassment, and violence.
Because of homophobia, there is usually little opportunity to talk freely and learn about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. This serves to perpetuate heterosexism.
It is possible to maintain one’s individual moral perspectives, values and beliefs while behaving in ways that are respectful of people that are different from oneself.
Being heterosexual is not a choice. Neither is being homosexual.
“Soon the day will come when science will win victory over error, justice a victory over injustice, and human love a victory over human hatred and ignorance.”
A L G B T I C A L Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama