The Western Carolina University Safe Zone Program provides training to students, faculty, staff, and community members to increase awareness and sensitivity to issues of gender and sexuality. Safe Zone also creates a network of support, resources, and allies committed to supporting gender, sexuality, and identity issues reflected in the campus and local community.
WCU's Safe Zone Program was developed out of the Gay Alliance's (gayalliance.org) Safe Zone program. The Gay Alliance's SafeZone program is designed "to develop, enhance and maintain environments in workplaces, schools and other social settings that are culturally competent and supportive to LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] individuals, as well as straight identified people who care about diversity, equality and inclusion" ("SafeZone Sessions," 2012). WCU's Safe Zone Program strives to uphold this mission and to be inclusive of all people and groups.
Our Safe Zone symbol visibly identifies people and places that are "safe" for students, faculty, staff, and community members of all gender and sexual identities. It signifies safety, support, trustworthiness, and affirmation—regardless of sexuality or gender identity. If you choose to become a member, others will know they can come to you for help, advice, or just to talk to someone who is supportive of their gender and/or sexual identity.
The symbol also means that homophobic, transphobic, heterosexist, and cissexist comments and actions will not be tolerated, but will be addressed in an educational and informative manner. Colleagues and students have a right to their opinion; however, if someone is stating myths or misinformation about gender and sexual minority individuals, participants are expected to inform them of more accurate information in a respectful manner.
The Safe Zone Program also puts on supplemental and educational programming for the campus community throughout the year. These programs are designed to be open to the community and deal with various issues around gender and sexuality, such as safe sex, religious/spiritual issues, other specific topic focus sessions, and gender and sexuality focused film screenings. These programs are designed to educate the campus community, whether or not they are interested in Safe Zone certification.
Those interested in becoming a Safe Zone Member and serving as an ally in this way can sign up for the next Safe Zone Training Series. This four-hour training covers the purpose and role of Safe Zone Programs, provides instruction around LGBT culture, key terminology, theories, issues, and the coming out process, defines the role of the Safe Zone Member, and provides resources to serve our campus and greater community in this role. Participants must complete a Part I and a Part II session in order to receive certification.
Upcoming Safe Zone Training Dates:
For more information or to register for training, please send your name,email address, and preferred dates to the Safe Zone Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are interested in having your department Safe Zone certified (at least 5 participants) we will try to accommodate the training around your schedule. Please contact the Safe Zone Coordinator with these requests at email@example.com or 828.227.2616. We look forward to working with you!