Safe Zone Education Teaches Students How to be Allies

UNCP initially began Safe one Education in 2009. This was in an effort to better serve the LGBTQIA+ population on campus. Submitted image/Dr.Lawerence Locklear.

By: Zachary C Young, Editor-in-Chief

With safe zone education being offered to both faculty and students, The Office for Student Inclusion and Diversity (OSID) is leading the way to make our campus more inclusive. OSID attempts to make our campus more accepting of those who identify as LGBTQIA+. 

Dr. Lawrence Locklear, Director of The Office of Student Inclusion and Diversity, facilitates the training session, with the purpose of this educational training to make attendees more informed regarding the plight of the LGBTQIA+ community. 

This is done by highlighting issues LGBTQIA+ individuals face that a straight, or cisgender individual may be privileged enough to never have to experience. 

For straight, or cisgender individuals who consider themselves allies, they have the responsibility to bridge the gap between individuals they know to be intolerant and the LGBTQIA+ community. 

“A lot of homophobia and transphobia comes from not knowing people who are members of the community,” Locklear says. “I think it would be good to gauge their level of comfort with it, but you can’t not have that conversation. I wouldn’t let their opposition to talking about the community prevent you from talking about the community. It’s going to force them to grow in some ways.”

Regarding the opposition to the LGBTQIA+ community, Locklear says you can’t change someone’s attitudes in one day, calling it a “process.” Locklear mentions that the process of acceptance can be painful for some, but it is a necessary growing pain to achieve inclusion.

The desired result of safe zone education is once an individual completes the training, they are now better equipped to become an ally for the community.

Safe zone education begins with a list of questions regarding the attendees first awareness of LGBTQIA+ people, including: “When’s the first time you can remember learning that some people are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or queer?”

 The training goes into a detailed list of definitions that include sexuality terminology, gender terminology, correct use of pronouns, how to become an ally, what an ally does and how to create a safe zone for LGBTQIA+.

In addition to terminology, there are multiple videos that serve as testimonials from survivors of LGBTQIA+ violence, as well as some prominent individuals in the community such as Diamond Stylz.

The training also included multiple activities, one of which was called “Privileges for Sale.”

Everyone in the group was assigned a dollar amount, either $600 or $1,200. There was a list of 33 privileges such as sharing health insurance with your partner, using public restrooms without fear of threat or punishment, being open and having your partner accepted by your family. All of the privileges in the activity cost $100 each.

This was designed to show how straight couples have privileges that are often not afforded to couples who are members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Kaila Thompson, junior, says most of her prior knowledge regarding LGBTQIA+ came from television, the internet and some personal interactions. She took the training to make herself a better ally for the community. 

Thompson credits the activities the group participated in as her biggest takeaway from the training.

“It put us in a scenario that could happen anywhere at any time and see what we would do in that kind of situation,” Thompson says.

The training is held both in-person, and virtually, and there are separate training sessions for faculty and students. 

Faculty must email to RSVP. Students can RSVP through BraveConnect.

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