In an effort to reduce homophobia on campus, the Office of Student Life and Leadership and Intercultural Relations recently began a series called SafeZone State.
The series of SafeZone State is part of a response to diminish homophobia at Georgia State University. The goal of the series is to increase safety and security for students who fall under the LGBTQIQ area.
LGBTQIQ is an acronym for seven different areas that typically fall under ostracism from outside sources: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, and Queer.
Participants in the SafeZone State program are expected to be able to meet a number of objectives at the end of the seminar, including:
- naming identities by race, class, religious background, gender, and sexuality;
- listing types of safety required by people;
- defining multiple types of differences in gender and sexual identity;
- understanding the various stages of coming out for lesbians, gays, and bisexuals;
- explaining advantages that come with heterosexual or gender status;
- assisting in coming out or dealing with homophobia and transphobia;
- and assisting with understanding the root problems of homophobia and finding ways to change behavior.
During the seminars held on campus, participants engage in a number of activities, including icebreakers and games such as “Ins and Outs” and “What is Safe?”, as well as interactive role-playing on the coming out process.
Students who participate are expected to become allies. Allies in the SafeZone State program are defined as people who have an understanding of the needs of gays and lesbians, commit themselves to being an ally, give and receive support from other allies, and are able to provide a positive image for gays and lesbians.
To become an ally, SafeZone State lays out a four-tier program for becoming an ally: Awareness, Knowledge and Education, Skills, and Action.
In addition, SafeZone State urges allies to have a good understanding of sexual orientation (including personal sexual orientation), the coming-out process, internalized homophobia, the diversity of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, and basic knowledge of HIV and AIDS.
The SafeZone State program at Georgia State University is just one of many across the country. An ever-increasing number of college campuses are creating Safe Zones to reduce homophobia.
While SafeZone training is not exclusively for heterosexuals, most campuses focus on heterosexuals because of the group’s dominance in society.
The reason for this program’s focus on homophobia, as opposed to racism, sexism, or other social ills, is due to the belief that if tolerance can be raised in one area, tolerance can also be raised in other areas as a result.
Currently, training seminars for SafeZone State are being held by the Office of Student Life and Leadership for various organizations around campus, including the Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity and the Emerging Leaders.
To identify places designated as Safe Zones, look for the SafeZone State logo labeled at various places on campus.
Future dates and times for SafeZone State seminars will be published in the Signal, or can be found at the SafeZone State website (www2.gsu.edu/~wwwcou/safeZone.htm). Safe Zone locations can also be found at the SafeZone State website.