SafeZone Training Programs

As one of the oldest LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) organizations in the country we are proud to continue our core mission of providing services to the LGBTQ communities of Rochester NY and surrounding areas.  In recent years our education programs have gained national attention, and our trainers have extended our reach beyond the upstate NY region. We have been leading sessions across the country, presenting keynote addresses at conferences, and working with clients from a variety of states to meet their educational and training goals.          

Last year the Gay Alliance ran nearly 50 SafeZone training sessions as part of our almost 200 presentations.  In addition, we have helped to create a SafeZone curriculum and train trainers in numerous settings including corporate, health care and college campuses.  Few organizations in the country have our experience or expertise.

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 individuals, as well as straight identified people who care about diversity, equality and inclusion.

In Our Schools:

Several research groups have documented results that indicate that LGBTQ teens are at a much higher risk for attempting suicide than their straight counterparts. 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.

It is therefore necessary for institutions to take proactive steps to create an inclusive and safe environment to promote mental health so that all students, faculty and staff are empowered to reach their full potential.  

In Our Workplaces:

While progress is slowly being made to create more welcoming and inclusive workplaces for LGBT 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 LGBT workers (51%) hide their identities to most of their coworkers.
  • 58% of LGBT workers say someone at work makes a joke or derogatory comment about LGBT people at least once in a while.
  • 80% of LGBT employees confront conversations involving spouses, relationships and dating at least once per week.
  • 51% of LGBT employees say their employer rarely uses terms such as "partner" or "significant other" in communications.
  • The vast majority of LGBT workers do not report instances when they hear an anti-LGBT 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 answer questions about their home lives evasively.  It is necessary for agencies and corporations to take proactive steps to create inclusive and safe environments so that all individuals are empowered to reach their full potential. 

What is a SafeZ‚Äčone?

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 while addressing the challenges that exist when one wants to advocate for their LGBTQ peers, family members, friends and co-workers.

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 language, the process of coming out, the power of the straight ally, understanding sexual identity, how to respond to homophobic/transphobic incidents, 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

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 develop  sustainable SafeZone Programs on college campuses and in workplaces to create environments that are safe and supportive to LGBTQ individuals. It is expected that registrants have some basic knowledge of LGBTQ issues and that they believe in equality and inclusion for LGBTQ individuals. 

Jeanne Gainsburg, Gay Alliance Education Director, and Scott Fearing, Gay Alliance Executive Director, join forces to bring you this fast-paced, dynamic and informational training.  Jeanne and Scott have worked together for 7 years, building successful Gay Alliance Education Programs, including our SafeZone trainings.

The SafeZone Train-the-Trainer Certification Program is an 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

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 suggested agendas for running SafeZone Sessions, suggestions to extend knowledge, handouts to use in future SafeZone Trainings and a certificate of course completion.  On-going support will be available to participants through the Gay Alliance Education Program following the presentation to offer assistance and suggestions for keeping programs fresh and up-to-date.

Feedback From Our Most Recent SafeZone Certification Program in Rochester, NY (March 2014)     

“Unlike any conference I’ve been to! I can’t wait to share my knowledge. Don’t change a thing! THANK YOU!”

“Fantastic. Thank you for the opportunity. The presenters, topic, location, materials were all awesome. Very affirming. Very helpful. The whole thing was great. Applicable, transferable, relevant.”

“The quality of the presenters was outstanding. I am so thankful for this training. It will make a difference in the lives of people, especially GLBTQ youth.”

“The best part of this workshop was the activities and the presenters! I am much more fired up to train others. Can’t wait to go back to school and use this knowledge.”

“The best part was the facilitator tips and tricks, as opposed to basic SafeZone info. It was wonderful. Great techniques to create groups, great facilitation, spoke clearly, used inclusive language, open to discussion/different points of view, able to answer questions. You guys are rock stars :)”

“Safe, informative and interactive presentation! They all were very respectful and knowledgeable. Glad there was the manual to refer to as there was so much good info. Excellent presentation!!”

“Amazing! Worth the drive. Leveled with all of us and kept everyone included. Humor and friendliness. Continue doing what you’re doing and broaden your reach!”

“Oh my goodness, amazing. The presenters kept control of the room, made people feel safe to ask and figure out, fostering conversation, digging deeper, engaging everyone, well-timed breaks, well-timed standing and sitting. Thank you so much for all of the information and stories! You’re such lovely people! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!!!”

“This was a great workshop! The focus, content and activities were among the best I’ve ever seen."

100% of the participants in our most recent training rated the content of the presentation, the workshop as a whole and the presenters “very good to excellent!” 

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 (beyone material expenses). Trainees may not market or sell the Gay Alliance Train-the-Trainer manual in part or in full.

For questions or to get on our notification list for our upcoming trainings contact Jeanne at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or 585-244-8640 ext. 14.

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