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Safe Zone

 

Safe Zones are welcoming spaces created by people who are committed to acceptance, equity, and full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, and queer communities and their allies. 

Share your learning and experiences using #VTSafeZone.

Established in 1998, the Safe Zone program was created as a collaborative effort between the Dean of Students; HokiePRIDE of Virginia Tech; the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Faculty and Staff Caucus (LGBT Caucus) at Virginia Tech; and the Office for Equity and Accessibility (formerly the Office of Equal Opportunity).

Now administered through the Office for Inclusion and Diversity, the Safe Zone program educates the Virginia Tech community on topics related to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, and queer (LGBTQ+) community.

Safe Zones are welcoming spaces created by people who are committed to acceptance, equity, and full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, and queer communities and their allies. 

Share your learning and experiences using #VTSafeZone.

The objectives of the Safe Zone program are to:

  • Identify a network of allies who are concerned, empathetic, and knowledgeable about LGBTQ+ issues.
  • Equip this network of allies with tangible actions that can be taken to support the LGBTQ+ community on campus.
  • Reduce the fear of reprisal and discrimination by LGBTQ+ people and their allies within the Virginia Tech community.
  • Assist LGBTQ+ and allied students in achieving their educational goals by creating an environment in which they can be themselves. 
  • Demonstrate support of LGBTQ+ people and their allies by posting a sign as tangible evidence of that support.

All of our Safe Zone facilitators are experienced volunteer trainers who serve in other roles throughout the university. 

  • Ashleigh “Bing” Bingham, Ph.D., Director of the LGBTQ+ Resource Center
  • Erika Grafsky, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Science
  • Inga Marie Storlie Haugen, Scholarly Communication Librarian, University Libraries
  • Katie Mey, Assistant Director, Gender Based Violence Prevention, The Women’s Center
  • Alison Sibol, Math Emporium Staff Supervisor
  • Jess Westcott, Psychology Doctoral Intern, Cook Counseling Center
  • John Gray Williams, Director of Recruitment, College of Natural Resources
  • Anthony Wright de Hernandez, Community Collections Archivist, University Libraries

Register for Safe Zone courses through the Professional Development Network at https://profdev.tlos.vt.edu/. Choose the Inclusive Practices category.

VirTual Safe Zone 101 is for anyone wanting to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community. Topics addressed in the 101 training include common LGBTQ+ terms, how sex and gender are distinct, the costs of cis/straight privilege, the coming out process, and being an inclusive ally. This course is delivered online over five weeks and includes a weekly zoom discussion.

Trans 101: [description forthcoming]

Dating and Healthy Relationships covers sensitive and mature issues around safe dating practices, online dating, safe sex across sexualities and gender expression, and an overview of intimate partner violence.

LGBTQ+ Mental Health:  Session covers the context of mental health concerns facing LGBTQ+ students; Describes common mental health concerns of LGBTQ+ students; Identifes warning signs of suicidal ideation; presents basic steps for responding to students who express suicidal ideation;  and identifies Virginia Tech and New River Valley mental health resources and Virginia Tech LGBTQ+ resources.

LGBTQ+ Representation in Film and Television provides an overview of LGBTQ+ representation in American film and television from the late 1800s through today. It introduces key concepts of media literacy and provides tools for examining portrayals of LGBTQ+ people encountered in the media.

Supporting Trans* and Nonbinary Students in the Classroom covers best practices for supporting transgender, gender nonbinary, and gender nonconforming students in the classroom and academic settings.

To be Safe Zone certified, complete the Safe Zone 101 and Trans 101 workshops, as well as one additional elective.  Upon completion of all three workshops, participants receive a digital badge and a Safe Zone sign to post in their work location.  The Safe Zone badge is viable for two years.