Safe Zone trainings are opportunities to learn about LGBTQ+ identities, gender and sexuality, and unlearn prejudice.
You may have seen a sticker or sign that says “Safe Zone” or “Safe Zone Trained.” These visual indicators can mean a variety of things in different communities. Most often we find they indicate that the person displaying the sticker has gone through a Safe Zone training and wants to communicate to others that they are open to talking about and being supportive of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning +) individuals and identities.
The term “Safe Zone” is used all over the country (and world) by schools and organizations to refer to LGBTQ+ awareness trainings.
Why do people do Safe Zone trainings?
LGBTQ folks sometimes question whether they will feel safe, welcomed, or supported in a new environment. Displaying Safe Zone stickers and demonstrating you went to a training can communicate to others the commitment you’re making to creating LGBTQ-inclusive environments.
There is a pressure to already know how to be LGBTQ+ inclusive. And while many of us want to be we don’t necessarily feel comfortable with the language, with our own level of understanding, and don’t know where to go to learn more and to explore conversations around gender and sexuality. Safe Zone trainings are safe places for people can go to learn more, about their own gender/sexuality and deepen their understanding of LGBTQ+ identity and issues.
How do I become a Safe Zone / make my organization a Safe Zone?
It’s awesome than you want your organization to be a safe and inclusive place for LGBTQ folks. Attending a Safe Zone training, having a deeper familiarity and comfort with vocabulary, inclusive practices, and privilege can help you identify ways that your organization can continue to be a more safe and inclusive space for LGBTQ folks.
We would encourage you not to call your organization a “safe zone” but instead to think strategically about ways to get everyone organization Safe Zone trained so they as individuals have a personal connection and understanding of the material. If you want folks to know your organization is LGBTQ-inclusive, welcoming, and affirming, we encourage you to start with that statement and then invite folks to hold you accountable through feedback.
Where can I get Safe Zone Trained?
Start local! If you’re looking to attend a Safe Zone training, contact a local college/university to see if they offer Safe Zone trainings to the community or if they’d be willing to put one of if you helped coordinate a group. Local LGBTQ organizations are another great place to inquire, and if they don’t offer trainings, they may be able to direct you to a resource that does!
If you are part of an organizations or schools who is looking to start a Safe Zone program in order to train your population we offer train-the-trainer programs for those who want some assistance getting started!
Who invented Safe Zone Trainings?
We’re not sure. Our exposure to the term “Safe Zone” meaning LGBTQ awareness and 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. If you know more about the origin story, let us know!
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 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?
Nope. There is no “official” Safe Zone workshop curriculum, organization, or website. Because the term is used so widely by many different people and to indicate many different curriculum, it would be silly for us (or anyone really) 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” and to offer an easy way (free curriculum) for people to get materials.
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 use our curriculum, maybe read up on facilitation skills, and then get started facilitating your own workshops without ever chatting to us. After you’ve done a few you’ll be as official as one can be. If you are interested in additional support getting your program off the ground or restarted check out our train-the-trainer page.
Email us! Yo@thesafezoneproject.com! We’d be happy to chat!