You may have seen a sticker or sign that indicate that a person is a “Safe Zone” or has been “Safe Zone Trained.” These signs mean a person is open to talking about and being supportive of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning +) individuals and identities.
“Safe Zone” is a term used ubiquitously by schools and workplaces to indicate both the learning opportunity (Safe Zone workshops) and the people who have completed them (Safe Zone-trained individuals). And even more broadly, the term “safe zone” is used to refer to LGBTQ awareness workshops.
LGBTQ folks sometimes question whether they will feel safe, welcomed, or supported in a new environment. Displaying “Safe Zone” stickers can help a organizations communicate to others a commitment to creating LGBTQ-inclusive environments.
For us (TheSafeZoneProject.com) the goal of a Safe Zone training isn’t to change a particular space, but to create people who are invested in creating safe and affirming environments wherever they go, and providing those people the skills and knowledge they need to do that.
How do I become a Safe Zone / make my organization a Safe Zone?
First we want to say that we don’t believe a space or entire organization can guarantee they are a fully inclusive or safe space. However, you can show your dedication to LGBTQ-inclusiveness by attending a Safe Zone Training and then displaying displaying a Safe Zone sticker or discussing your orgs dedication to LGBTQ-inclusion.
Where can I get Safe Zone Trained?
Start local! If you’re looking to attend a Safe Zone workshop, contact your local college/university to see if they offer open-to-community Safe Zone trainings. Local LGBTQ organizations are also a great place to inquire, and if they don’t offer trainings, they may be able to direct you to a resource that does!
When local organizations are not an option, we offer a number of opportunities for folks looking to expand their LGBTQ awareness, knowledge, and skills. We run monthly online Safe Zone workshops for individuals who cannot access local in-person trainings. If you are part of an organizations and schools who are looking to get large populations of their employees and/or students trained we offer in-person training opportunities and train-the-trainer programs for those looking for the most sustainable option!
Who invented Safe Zone Trainings?
We’re not sure. Our exposure to the term “Safe Zone” meaning LGBTQ awarenessand ally workshops was within higher education (Meg at Hamilton College, Sam at a similarly-focused program at Purdue). The idea and terminology have has since spread to non-profits, healthcare settings, and many other progressive organizations.
Are Safe Zone workshops just for straight people? Are they ally trainings?
Nope! While Safe Zone workshops will absolutely assist straight (and cisgender) people to learn how to be better allies, there is a lot for everyone to learn in a Safe Zone workshop. Many LGBTQ-identified folks enjoy having the opportunity to learn more about how to be better allies to those within the community and more knowledgeable about identities and systems they may otherwise not be aware of! The goals of Safe Zone workshops is awareness and knowledge of gender/sexuality (including your own!) and is not limited to how to help/support others as ally trainings may be.
Is this the “official” Safe Zone organization? Or “official” way for me to become a Safe Zone trainer?
No. There is no “official” Safe Zone workshop curriculum, organization, or website. Because the term is used so widely by so many different people and to indicate so many different curriculum, it would be silly for us (or really anyone) to claim to be the “official” one (this is our official opinion).
One of the goals of The Safe Zone Project is to create commonality in what it means to be “safe zone trained” (read more here). We’re proud that over 9,000 people are using our materials in over 90 countries.
Some folks contact us and want to know how they can become an “official” Safe Zone trainer. We do not certify Safe Zone Trainers. You have our permission to get familiar with our curriculum, maybe read up on facilitation skills, and then get started facilitating your own workshops. After you’ve done a few you’ll be as official as one can be. If you are interested in more formalized help check out our train-the-trainer visits page.
Email us! Yo [at] the safe zone project [dawt] com! We’d be happy to chat!