Safe Zone pushes for tolerance

By Noe Ortega

Student workers and faculty came together for the Safe Zone Coalition training for undocumented students and the LGBT.

According to the website, Safe Zone is a sanctuary for LGBT and undocumented students, faculty and the community.

It’s a place where members can share stories about their unique experiences and be in a place where they can feel at peace. It’s also a place where student workers and faculty gather to interact with the activities provided for them.

An example of the activities at the trainings is first impressions, where students can speak about the first time meeting  someone of the LGBT                                                          community and experienced them being treated differently.

Other examples of activities include the first time one person felt love for another and matching vocabulary words with their definition with words like heterosexism, queer and gender expression.

Safe Zone handed out fliers with responses for  someone of the LGBT Community coming out such as “I don’t have a problem with it,” “It’s only a phase,” and to not pretend like you know more than you do.

The training is run by Dream Resource Center staff and faculty from the English and Health departments.

Safe Zone adopted the Las Vegas motto of “what happens in Vegas, stays in vegas” in their trainings.

The training consists of scenarios in which instructors have to deal with students or administrators offending members of the LGBT community.

The scenarios were played out from the point of view of an instructor, administrator or a staff member who had to deal with a student who is being disrespectful and offensive towards members of the LGBT community.    

Safe Zone provided statistics from Kognito Training, which according to its website, is a health simulation company that believes in the power of conversation to inspire and inform, impact how people think and act, evoke empathy and change lives.

According to a study conducted by Human Rights Campain, four in 10 LGBT youth (42%) say the community in which they live is not accepting of LGBT people.

According to “Paying the Unfair Price: The Financial Penalty for LGBT People of Color in America,” a third of the LGBT Americans are people of color who are more likely to be harassed at school and have a lower college completion rate.

At the trainings, Safe Zone clarifies terms like sex, gender and sexual orientation. Participants are made anonymous if they wish.

Pamphlets containing anonymous testimonials were handed out to those in attendance.

“As an LGBTQ male, I would like to express my interest in having an on-campus gay-straight alliance… I feel it would be beneficial to us students because it could be a place where we could gather our thoughts, being that it is a safe zone,” said an anonymous ELAC student.

Safe Zone welcomes all staff to come to the training to interact with members of the LGBT Community.

“I’m currently taking (a class at ELAC) and a topic we are suppose to learn about was gender and sexuality, but instead of actually going through the material, my teacher just skimmed through it and barely even talked about it.

“He argued that he didn’t want to make people feel uncomfortable, but instead he made me feel uncomfortable not wanting to talk about the topic,” said an anonymous student.

Safe Zone gives tips on how people of the LGBT community can avoid being harassed when attending LGBT events, challenge homophobia and transphobia, stay up-to-date on issues and resources and pledging to be an ELAC Safe Zone ally.

“The training is going very well. We had over 100 staff, faculty and student workers complete the training, and we plan to roll out a 2.0 training where it would be training for students attending ELAC,” said Student Services Assistant of Outreach Lynn Wood.

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