Safe Zone Trainings educate UCCS community on LGBT experiences

April 25, 2017

Daryn Vlad

dvlad@uccs.edu

     Students of the LGBT community experience bullying, discrimination, verbal abuse and sometimes even physical violence, according to Jesse Perez, assistant director of MOSAIC and program director of the LGBT Resource Center.

     This semester, the LGBT Resource Center hosted four, Safe Zone Training workshops for members of UCCS who wanted to become allies of or learn about the LGBT community.

     The Safe Zone Training program was created by SPECTRUM in 2008 and is available to students, faculty and staff for two-hour long workshops throughout the semester.

     Safe Zone Training offered programs this semester specifically designed for the transgender student community as well as for staff and faculty.

     “Its education-based and learning outcomes include awareness of terminology, the coming out process and becoming a supporting ally whether that’s staff, faculty or students,” said Perez.

     The trainings also discuss different scenarios and situations that members of the LGBT community often face.

     “We know, based on research, that LGBT students who experience bullying and harassment are less likely to engage in the learning process,” said Perez.

     According to Perez, it is important for students to feel accepted in their learning environment, and this is the ultimate goal of the program.

     Those who participated in the Safe Zone workshops were given a sticker that is recognizable to other members of the program.

     “Visibility grants students validation, acceptance and support. It allows members of the community to see someone and think, ‘This is a person whom I recognize as someone I can trust,’” said Perez.

     According to program member and director of the Languages and Social Sciences Center, Sandy Ho, the program does not try to fool anyone into thinking the world is full of accepting people.

     “I think being inclusive and valuing diversity all starts with creating awareness,” said Ho. “Safe Zone brings light to our differences and allows people to connect in a positive way.”

     Perez argues that many students, inside and outside of the LGBT community, are leaving universities unprepared for the tough conversations and situations that happen outside of the classroom setting.

     “The reality is that the environment on a college campus is very different than what you’d see in the broader community,” he said. “We just have to try to keep people educated.”

     At the training workshops, presenters primarily explain terminology and discuss differences between terms that are often misunderstood, like “sex,” “gender” and “sexuality.”

     According to Ho, everyone starts out at the same level, despite any background knowledge they may have of the LGBT community.

     For more information on the Safe Zone Training program, visit the LGBT Resource Center in University Center or contact lgbtrc@uccs.edu.