SafeZone Training Programs
The Gay Alliance’s SafeZone program was created to develop, enhance and maintain environments in workplaces, schools and other social settings that are culturally competent and supportive to LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) individuals, as well as straight, cisgender people who care about diversity, equality and inclusion. Our SafeZone Train-the-Trainer Certification Program is offered twice a year in our hometown of Rochester, NY. This program can also be brought to your campus or workplace to create a sustainable SafeZone Program after we have left. As one of the oldest LGBTQ organizations in the country, few organizations have our experience or our expertise.
In Our Schools:
Several research groups have documented results that indicate that lesbian, gay and bisexual teens are at a much higher risk for attempting suicide than their straight counterparts. The 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey "Injustice at Every Turn," which surveyed over 6,000 transgender individuals found that 41% of transgender people had attempted suicide compared to 1.6% of the general population.
For LGBTQ students, faculty and staff the school environment poses numerous threats and obstacles. Hateful language, physical and emotional harassment and the threat of physical violence are a reality for many LGBTQ people. Survey responses from Growing Up LGBT in America, the Human Rights Campaign’s 2012 research study, revealed that many LGBTQ youth and young adults are profoundly disconnected from their communities. Youth and young adults who are out to their immediate family or at school report a higher likelihood to achieve several life goals compared to those who are not out, if asked to imagine their future while living in their current city or town. The Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN’s) 2009 survey of 7,261 middle and high school students found that nearly 9 out of 10 LGBTQ students experienced harassment at school in the past year and nearly two-thirds felt unsafe because of their sexual orientation. Nearly a third of LGBTQ students skipped at least one day of school in the past month because of safety concerns.
In Our Workplaces:
While progress is slowly being made to create more welcoming and inclusive workplaces for LGBTQ employees, there is still much to be done. Below are some eye opening statistics from the 2009 Human Rights Campaign’s Degrees of Equality: A National Study Examining Workplace Climate for LGBT Employees.
The majority of LGBTQ workers (51%) hide their identities to most of their coworkers.
58% of LGBTQ workers say someone at work makes a joke or derogatory comment about LGBTQ people at least once in a while.
80% of LGBTQ employees confront conversations involving spouses, relationships and dating at least once per week.
51% of LGBTQ employees say their employer rarely uses terms such as "partner" or "significant other" in communications.
The vast majority of LGBTQ workers do not report instances when they hear an anti-LGBTQ remark to human resources or management. On average, 67 % ignore it or let it go, 9 % raise the issue with a supervisor and only 5 % go to human resources.
For many LGBTQ individuals, the work environment is fraught with anxiety. Derogatory comments go unchecked, exclusive language is used in workplace communications and energy that could be spent on working and creating healthy relationships with coworkers is instead spent on maintaining barriers, avoiding social events and learning how to keep secrets about their home lives and families.
What is a SafeZone?
A SafeZone is a place where all people feel welcome and safe. It may be a room, a car, or an entire college campus. The Gay Alliance SafeZone program aims to increase the awareness, knowledge, and skills for individuals and address the challenges that exist when one wants to advocate for their LGBTQ peers, family members, friends and co-workers. Creating SafeZones is a proactive step that schools, agencies and corporations can take to create welcoming, inclusive spaces so that all people are empowered to reach their full potential.
About our SafeZone Training
The Gay Alliance SafeZone Training can be customized to meet the needs of any organization. Ideally our SafeZone Training is a 2-4 hour workshop, which can be presented in one or two sessions. This program is a dynamic, interactive session that includes activities and discussion around: inclusive and respectful language, the process of coming out, understanding sexual identity, taking action on our campuses and in our workplaces, where to go for help and much more. This session will give participants the skills they need to provide support and to create environments that are safe, welcoming and inclusive. At the end of the class, participants are offered a Gay Alliance SafeZone sticker so that they can create their own SafeZone.
The Gay Alliance SafeZone Train-the-Trainer Certification Program is a full day program created to develop confident, knowledgeable and effective SafeZone trainers, who can establish sustainable SafeZone Programs on their college campuses and in their workplaces.
This is a fast-paced, dynamic and interactive course, which includes activities, small group discussions and opportunities for practicing skills as educators. Topics covered include:
· Educational Philosophy
· Suggested Exercises for Increasing Knowledge
· Suggested Exercises for Taking Action
· Encouraging Dialogue
· Empowering the Straight/Cisgender Ally
· Answering Questions Effectively
· Tips For Successful Sessions
· Creating Sustainable SafeZone Programs on a Campus or in the Workplace
This workshop can be run as a one day 8 hour session or two half day sessions. During this course, participants will be coached in running SafeZone sessions and offered opportunities to ask and answer questions in a supportive environment using the teaching skills that they acquire. Each participant will receive a SafeZone Training manual that will provide recommended exercises and activities, suggested outlines and agendas for running SafeZone trainings, suggestions to extend knowledge, handouts to use in future SafeZone Trainings, a certificate of course completion and a SafeZone sticker. On-going support will be available to participants through the Gay Alliance Education Program following the presentation as well as suggestions for keeping programs fresh and up-to-date.
Feedback From Our Most Recent SafeZone Train-the-Trainer Certification Programs
Utica College (April 2015)
“Simply amazing! Authentic, easy to understand, willing to answer questions, being able to interact with everyone and hear different perspectives. I feel more prepared to answer questions based on the activities. Honestly, nothing could have improved this training. Thank you so, so much!”
“Enlightening, encouraging and supportive. Loved it! The respect and honesty in the room. We could not have had an excellent experience if the presenters did not create this space. I can appreciate how hard it is to stay “on” all day – you nailed it!”
“Overwhelming in the best possible way. This evaluation is not just me being agreeable. It is an honest opinion. The presenters were amazing! I so eagerly want to share with others what I’ve gleaned.”
Rochester, NY (March 2015)
“Amazing. I am overwhelmed in the best ways possible. Offer this more than 2 times a year (in Rochester) so we could send more people!”
“Amazing! Very well organized and presented. Presenters shared a wealth of personal information that really added a connection to the audience. I feel so fortunate to be a part of this. I am now energized and motivated to bring this service to our college community.”
“Rich. Great depth and breadth. Never talked at. Truly ‘facilitated’ learning. The best part was modeling how to engage questions/comments/push-backs with affirmation and inclusion while returning to educational objectives. Valued the wisdom in the room. Best workshop I’ve attended in years.”
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine-Georgia Campus (Jan. 2015)
“Informative, even for one of the LGBT community. Nothing could have improved this presentation. There’s what I feel is a healthy amount of fear any time a school has addressed the LGBT community. The presenter far surpassed the best outcome I could have hoped for.”
“Wonderful! Fabulous! Informative and eye opening! The best parts were hearing stories, sharing examples and rethinking situations. Being reminded of the small changes I can make.”
“Wonderful and all inclusive. Even when discussing religious issues, the presenter told us a great way to handle it. I absolutely loved this class."
Penn State-Altoona Campus (Jan. 2015)
“The workshop exceeded my expectations. I found it to be very valuable. A relaxed presentation style that fit the topic and audience.”
“You were both relatable and provided an environment in which I felt comfortable asking questions. Also, your tips were useful for teachers in general. You both were great! I am very glad I braved the weather to come today!”
“Honestly the best workshop I have attended since I started at PSU in 2007.”
A follow up note from a college professor from a university in Texas:
“I talked about the training to my students, and they will NOT let me move on to the material I planned for class...THEY WANT TO KNOW MORE!!! Isn't that just awesome? I was a bit nervous because of the area I live in right now is sooooo conservative, but I'm wondering if my students do not talk about serious or LGBT issues because we are not providing an avenue for safe discussions. I ended up spending the entire class time (2.5 hours) for every class talking about the workshop and the information I've learned. I went to my dean to tell him how exciting this is and now he wants to formally create opportunities (meetings, forums, etc) to open up the discussion at our college. Thank you so much for your work, for your dedication, and for your support. Your work and the work of your team is inspirational. - A proud ally"
A follow up note from a college professor from a university in Pennsylvania:
“My colleagues and I raved about the SafeZone Train-the-Trainer Program much of the way home and began to brainstorm how we could begin to implement the ideas on our campus, which is in the dark ages. You created a climate in that room of camaraderie, dispelled judgment and left everyone wanting more. Your openness, acceptance, ability to articulate clearly and without judgment and true genuine-ness are models for all of us.Thank you!”
Note: SafeZone Train-the-Trainer participants should be fully on board with LGBTQ equality and have a basic knowledge of LGBTQ issues. Participants, once trained, will be prepared to train others in the interest of support for LGBTQA individuals, community education and social change. Trainees are not allowed to profit from this curriculum by charging for this service (beyond material expenses). Trainees may not market or sell the Gay Alliance Train-the-Trainer manual in part or in full.