Safe Zone Protects All Sexual Orientations

21 Dec

By Jen Burnham

_______________________

Safe Zone was first created in 1992 at Ball State University where it was long-awaited. There have been different versions of the name, “Safe Zone,” but the idea of mutual respect for all students remains the same. The idea, which was conceived by the Lesbian, Bisexual, and Gay Student Association, was intended to serve as an outlet of education for those heterosexual students, staff, and faculty who wanted to help end homophobic discrimination.

Being able to provide support to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) students was the other main objective this program was, and still is, concerned with. Diversity on any campus is expected, and that’s why it is so important to create the awareness of equality.

Bullying is not acceptable at any college, and this type of harassment is no exception. Since 1992, this program has spread across the nation. Now, we are welcoming this program at Ivy Tech. Safe Zone creates awareness for all students, staff, and faculty about those who are GLBT. Anila Din, Emily Good, Debbie Ann Koliba, Kirsten Morrow, and Carissa Cartwright are the five people who are in charge of Safe Zone and plan on how it can become most effective. Koliba and Good were already a part of Co-Exist, which is also a support network. Din, Koliba, and Cartwright feel that there are many students who suffer from harassment because of their sexual orientation. This type of harassment can range from inappropriate name calling to secluding that student during group work.

“There were multiple occasions last year of student’s dropping out of school after speaking with me because they were so frustrated,” Din said. Safe Zone believes that no students should feel as if they are less deserving of a fair, comfortable, and safe education.

Safe Zone is there to help GLBT students deal with emotional abuse, but those who have just “come out,” or made their sexual orientation known to their families could always benefit from speaking to someone about it. Din knew that something had to be done, and by August of this year she teamed up with Koliba to begin spreading awareness of those who are gay, bisexual, lesbian, or transgender.

The women were determined to spread the word of mutual respect so they began creating flyers, pamphlets, and compiling terminology for our student body to familiarize themselves with. Some of these terms include: “gay,” “lesbian,” “transgender,” “MTF” (male to female), “FTM”(female to male), “cross-dresser” or “transvestite,” and many more. These terms are crucial to the success of Safe Zone. They are looking for students whowould like to be an “Ivy Ally,” a heterosexual student who will stand against discrimination. Students interested in participating as an “Ally” will receive training to help their efforts to stand against harassment.

Din, Koliba, and Cartwright hope to have established training for staff and faculty by the spring semester. Professors and directors who complete this training will receive a laminated Safe Zone poster to hang up for others to know they are advocates for mutual respect among all students. This will help those who are suffering feel more comfortable and more connected.

“There is support for you here. It is our responsibility to make sure the students feel supported,” Koliba said.

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