For decades, the University of Utah’s LGBT Resource Center has worked to make the campus a safe place for students of all sexual orientations and gender identities. As part of this mission, the group will offer a Safe Zone Training session for University students, faculty and staff, as well as the general public, on Aug. 18.
The training itself, explained Safe Zone Coordinator Evangeleena Manzanares, is a three hour session that covers terminology, history and ally-building. The first part, she continued, trainers go over terms relating to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people such as “LGBTQ,” “homophobia” and “heterosexism.” The session continues with an overview of the gay rights movement in the U.S. and with a discussion about how those in attendance can be allies.
“It’s to show that anybody can be an ally,” said Manzanares, “People in the LGBT community can be allies as well,” she added, explaining, for example, that cisgender (non-transgender) lesbians can be allies to transgender people, and gay men can be allies to bisexuals. The session also includes discussion and dispelling of stereotypes about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, and the creation of a safe space for participants to ask questions and create dialogue.
“At the beginning of the training we set down some norms that the group decides on to make sure they feel safe and comfortable asking questions and talking,” said Manzanares, noting that participants are also welcome to submit written questions anonymously for facilitators to answer later in the workshop.
During the fall and spring semesters, open Safe Zone Training is offered every month, and the school’s departments, offices and colleges are welcome to contact the LGBT Resource Center to schedule a free training session for their staff. Manzanares also said that the resource center offers training for organizations off campus for a requested donation.
Two free training sessions will be held Aug. 18 from 9 a.m.–12 p.m., and then from 1–4 p.m. in the Olpin Student Union Den. To RSVP, or to express interest in becoming a trainer, contact Manzanares at [email protected] or 801-587-7973.