LGBT raises Safe Zone awareness
Published: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 17, 2013 14:10
October seems to be the month for all colors, and at A-State it is, with more faculty and staff members now displaying their rainbow standards in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students across campus.
As part of the ongoing LGBT History Month, the Multicultural Center hosted LGBT Safe Zone training for A-State faculty and staff members Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, and distributed multicolored “Safe Zone” placards for display on faculty office or classroom doors.
Safe Zone training is a voluntary program which prepares faculty and staff members to create safe and open learning environments for students of all sexual orientations.
Kathryn Krueger, who works in the English and philosophy department as the coordinator of women in gender studies, and Lisa Bohn, of the theater department, led the training programs.
“This is a really meaningful outreach program,” Krueger said. “(College) may be the first place people are ‘out,’ or have a community they can be involved in.”
According to Krueger, qualified Safe Zone faculty agree to support LGBT students inside and outside of the classroom, and will not try to convince LGBT students that they are truly straight or that their sexual preferences are illegitimate.
“We want to create an environment where people can freely choose what they want to do,” Krueger said.
The training also aimed to help educate faculty members in appropriate responses to promote a culture of appreciation and ensure that their classrooms are LGBT friendly.
Krueger said in her program there are different levels of attitude toward LGBT people, ranging from pity and tolerance to acceptance, appreciation and advocacy. Krueger said the end goal is always appreciation and advocacy, when people “take steps as an ally to change the conversation and eradicate prejudice.”
In addition, Krueger provided attendees with information for LGBT advocacy groups on campus, including the Gay-Straight Alliance, ASU Multicultural Center and the ASU Counseling Center.
“Receiving Safe Zone training does not qualify (faculty and staff) to provide counseling,” Krueger said. “It is our job to point (LGBT students) to those resources.”
At the end of the program, attendees were given LGBT Safe Zone signs and encouraged to display them outside their offices or places of work.
Catherine Calloway, of the English and philosophy department, said she will absolutely display the Safe Zone marker outside her door. “My classroom is a safe zone for all discussions,” Calloway said.
Calloway said the training was excellent, and extremely relevant for all faculty and staff.
Many attendees agreed with Calloway, including Kristi Costello, writing program director for the English and philosophy department.
“I thought (the training) was wonderful,” Costello said. Costello has been involved in Safe Zone training through two other institutions as well.
“This (training) is complete and is filling an important gap at the university,” Costello said.
The training sessions were part of A-State’s month-long recognition of LGBT history, and were preceded by National “Coming Out” Day Oct. 11 and the MidSouth PRIDE Festival in Memphis Oct. 12.
LGBT recognition events will continue through the end of the month.
On Monday, Oct. 21, a feature on LGBTQ Inclusion in Religious Communities will be held in Room 204 in Eugene W. Smith Hall from 6-8 p.m.
The Multicultural Center will host a series of three LGBT lectures, “Proposition 8, What Does it Really Mean?” “A Discussion on the Phrase ‘That’s so Gay,’” and “Women & Sexuality: Rights & Roles,” at noon on Oct. 23, 28 and 30, respectively.
For students wishing to become involved in LGBT advocacy, the Gay-Straight Alliance holds open meetings at 6 p.m. on Monday nights in room 204 of Eugene W. Smith Hall.