The Safe Space Program
As summed up on the website Equal!, which has created the Safe space program is:
“…. is an education and support group that addresses workplace environment issues affecting gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender employees and their friends and families. For more information on EQUAL! and the Safe Space Program, please visit us on the web at: http://www.equal.org .”
Many colleges have implemented safe space programs, havens, and safe zones. Some of the mission statements of their programs is shown on this site and are shown here (http://safezonefoundation.tripod.com/id27.html)
- Safe Zone’s purpose is to reduce homophobia and heterosexism on our campus and thereby to make our campus a safer and freer environment for all members of our community regardless of sexual orientation. We train individual students and faculty and staff members 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. We also organize and sponsor educational programs for campus groups. –University of Richmond Chapter of Safe Zone Virginia
- The purpose of the SAFE ZONE program is to provide SAFE ZONES where members of our campus community can show their support for individuals affected by homophobia, hate, sexual violence. By placing the SAFE ZONE symbol on their door or showing the symbol to others, SAFE ZONE allies signify that their space is a safe place to talk about issues which impact people who have been affected by any type of hate/hate crime, LGBT individuals, and women who are affected by sexual violence/sexual harassment, and related issues. –Kansas State University
- The purpose of Safe Zone is to create a network of allies for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students, and by doing so, to make the University community a safer and more supportive place. The Safe Zone program is a symbol of this University’s efforts to increase awareness and acceptance of the LGBT community. Safe Zone ally trainings are open to faculty, staff, and students and are held throughout the year. Allies receive a Safe Zone sign to display in their offices and living space. –University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Being Inclusive in the Work Space
A few simple rules or items to consider:
- Display a safe space sticker in your office (the space space sticker bear the pink (upside down) triangle that homosexuals or sexually different people wore during the holocaust and is now being reclaimed as a symbol of empowerment, surrounded by a green circle)
- Do not permit homophobic remarks or comments (note: if someone makes one of these comments DO NOT address them if in a crowd, where they would feel put in the spot, or in a demeaning tone, BUT advise them to be more aware of their language and address the persons or group if the comment(s) reoccur)
- Do not assume everyone is heterosexual or that a person is homosexual, lesbian, transexual, transgendered, gay, or bisexual (even people who claim they are heterosexual or homosexual may feel attraction to people of the same/different sex, gender, etc, but may not acknowledge it. You can never tell who may be in the closet, even if some stereotypes may prove to be true)
- Use inclusive language such as relationship, significant other, partner, and hir (or ask a person what language they would prefer you use, if you feel comfortable asking this)
- Have a supportive positive network: many people may not have come out, fear losing their jobs if their sexuality is presented at work, or being discriminated against.
What you can do
If you do not know much about what it is to be sexually different you can check out my posts, look on wordpress.com, or check out books. Information is out there about the issues, politics, and pride that surrounds being in the glbtq community. If you wish to be more inclusive, you can also ask someone who identifies as someone within the glbtq community and about their experiences. Also, you can visit the Equal! shop to get pamphlets, magnets, and stickers for your office.
The pamphlet can be viewed at: http://www.equal.org/images/store_images/SafeSpacePamphlet.pdf
Why have the Safe Space Program?
Many of corporations and organizations have an equal opportunity or a nondiscrimination policy in place in order for people within the glbtq community to feel comfortable and therefore to perform their best.
Though companies may preach and idealize about being nondiscriminatory practices, many people in organizations do not know the history, facts, or daily experiences of glbtq persons. This lack of education may lead to people feeling the pressure to stay in the closet or hide any behavior that may reveal their gender or sexual identity.
Also, some managers may want to create a safe space for people who identify as glbtq, but do not know how to foster this environment. The Safe Space Program can help foster an accepting diverse work, school, or organization environment.
“Displaying a Safe Space magnet in your workplace creates feelings of comfort, teamwork, and acceptance, and leads to increased engagement of all employees.” (http://www.equal.org/safespace.html)
Why have a Safe Zone Program at a school?
“The reason we emphasize the need for a “safe space” in schools for GLBTQ students is two-fold. Unfortunately, in the vast majority of schools today, students (GLBTQ and straight alike) hear anti-gay slurs over 25 times a day on average, according to recent studies, and students (GLBTQ and straight alike) are subjected to anti-gay verbal and physical assaults which are largely ignored by school administrations and faculty members who have not received adequate training to know how to handle such incidents. Until recently, students subjected to these serious behaviors have had nowhere to turn. However, after several successful lawsuits in recent years brought against school administrators and faculty, victims of this behavior finally have a voice…and a financial “punch” to schools if the they do not protect these students and prevent these types of serious behaviors from occurring in schools. Project Safe Space allows our volunteers to educate school administrators, faculty, staff, students and parents about the needs to provide protections for GLBTQ students before serious damage occurs and lawsuits are filed.”
All information above provided by PFLAG and the website (http://www.pflagphoenix.org/education/project_safe_space.html)
All Information taken from:
Note/Disclaimer: I could not and did not include all of the information listed out there. This is an only an overview of the Safe Space program and the services offered. I only chose a few resources and there are multiple. Hopefully this will provide a beginning to the compilation of this material and idea.