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Safe Zone

Safe Zone provides a visible message of inclusion, support and allyship for all orientations, genders, identities and levels of being “out.” Safe Zone is committed to creating a safe and affirming environment for everyone at WVU, including those who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ), as well as allied students, faculty, staff and administrators.

The mission of Safe Zone is to foster an atmosphere of support and celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning individuals on the WVU campus. We do this by identifying, educating and supporting allies on our campus, such as students, faculty, and staff who consider themselves to be open to and knowledgeable about LGBTQ issues.

Safe Zone is also designed to improve visibility and support of LGBTQ issues. This is especially important because while other members of minority groups can often identify mentors and role models, the invisibility of sexual orientation makes it difficult for WVU students, faculty and staff who are LGBTQ to identify those to whom they can safely turn for support, advocacy and information.

Safe Zone provides access to more easily discernible individuals who are available to provide support and information. WVU’s Safe Zone symbol is a message that a campus community member has participated in Safe Zone training and is committed to fostering an atmosphere of support and celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning individuals on the WVU campus.

Becoming a Safe Zone Member 
Students, faculty and staff are often recommended for membership by current Safe Zone members, the co-sponsors and by other members of the University community. Interested individuals can also contact the coordinator directly (Jorge.Castillo@mail.wvu.edu).

Those individuals who are interested and/or have been recommended are invited to attend a training session, which imparts knowledge, sensitivity and information about referral sources and the role of Safe Zone members. Those who choose to become Safe Zone members are provided a symbol for their office or workstation. Periodic “Refresher Workshops” are provided to further extend members’ knowledge and to provide for learning from one another. Safe Zone members can also participate in a listserv that provides additional updates and resources (two to three emails per month).

As a result of posting a Safe Zone sticker:
  • You may find LGBTQ students, faculty, staff, campus visitors and patients speak more freely and censor their speech less, providing a more genuine exchange with you.
  • You may find LGBTQ students, faculty, staff, campus visitors and patients will feel more at ease and will anticipate a non-judgmental atmosphere.
  • You may never notice a difference in the interactions you have with students, faculty, staff, campus visitors and patients, but—even so—you will make a difference.
  • You will make a personal contribution to improving the WVU campus environment for students, faculty, staff and their families.
Students, faculty and staff who participate in the program agree to the following:
  • Complete a Safe Zone training session (or comparable experience)
  • Display a Safe Zone symbol
  • Serve as a resource to members of the campus community who may wish to discuss LGBTQ issues
  • Provide information about University and community LGBTQ resources
  • Maintain privacy as described during the training process
  • Actively (though imperfectly) use inclusive language and challenge hate speech, name-calling, discrimination and real or threatened violence as it pertains to LGBTQ students, faculty, staff and families

The Safe Zone program makes no assumption regarding the reasons people choose not to participate. Publicity about the program clearly describes volunteers as persons who have chosen to be identified and available as sources of confidential support, respect, assistance, and accurate information related to LGBTQ issues and concerns.

Safe Zone Training
Safe Zone is committed to providing faculty, staff and student leaders with the necessary knowledge and tools to serve as allies to the LGBTQ community on campus. Training sessions are generally held three to four times per year. During these interactive sessions, participants are provided with information regarding:

- Language

- Importance of allies

- LGBTQ stereotypes

- Coming out process

- Campus and community climate issues

- Campus and community resources

At the conclusion of the training session, participants have the opportunity to sign a Member Agreement that affirms their intention to serve as an ally to the LGBTQ campus community. Upon return of the member agreement, participants receive a Safe Zone symbol. Participants are not required to sign this agreement, but may simply attend the training session to increase their awareness and personal knowledge.

Contacts

For questions or comments, please contact:

Jorge Castillo
LGBTQ+ Center Program Coordinator 
Jorge.Castillo@mail.wvu.edu

LGBTQ+ Center
LGBTQ@mail.wvu.edu