The mission of Safe Zone at MSU is to promote an inviting and inclusive environment that is emotionally and physically safe for LGBTQIA+ students, faculty, and staff. This is achieved through (1) increasing awareness and education aboutLGBTQIA+ identity, (2) developing and expanding MSU’s network ofLGBTQIA+ allies as well as increasing visibility of designated ally Safe Zones on campus, and (3) decreasing individual and institutional heterosexism and transnegativity.
The Safe Zone program, a joint effort between the Diversity and Inclusion Student Commons and Counseling and Psychological Services, works to deliver educational trainings and increase awareness of LGBTQIA+ individuals. The program exists to acknowledge and support members of our community who identify within theLGBTQIA+ spectrum.
Our volunteer Safe Zone trainers are committed to contributing to a campus climate where all students, faculty and staff are able to thrive academically, professionally and personally within a community that is based on shared respect and valued diversity. The volunteers have undergone training and work to educate other members of the MSU community to be both understanding and supportive of LGBTQIA+ individuals.
Members of Safe Zone consist of a team of interdisciplinary staff, faculty, and students within the university who are dedicated to raising awareness and acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community through education, training, and support. It is our belief that promoting a campus environment that is more accepting and inclusive is beneficial to the growth and development of the MSU community as a whole. The Safe Zone symbol identifies MSU members who can provide a safe place to talk about issues that impact LGBTQIA+ individuals, connect them to additional resources when needed, and support the added diversity that LGBTQIA+ individuals add to the campus community.
Do I have to be LGBTQ to be a Safe Zone Ally?
The Safe Zone program welcomes all people across the gender and sexual identity spectrums to participate. Displaying the Safe Zone decal and identifying as an ally does not indicate how a person identifies related to their gender or sexual identity. Being a Safe Zone ally means you are supportive of the needs of others and are willing to learn more about gender and sexual identities and related issues.
Why Safe Zone?
Research suggests that a reduction in discrimination towards any group provides a decrease in discrimination towards other groups as well; thus, everyone benefits. Students, faculty, and/or staff at MSU who identify as LGBTQIA+ may not always feel safe about disclosing their sexual orientation due to potential negative reactions or consequences. This may lead to feelings of isolation or invisibility and experiences of campus life as hostile, uninviting, and/or un-accepting. Safe Zone provides an avenue forLGBTQIA+ individuals to be able to identify places and people who are supportive, non-judgmental, and welcoming of open dialogues regarding these issues.
This past year, 789 students, faculty, staff, and adminstrators at Montana State University participated in a Safe Zone training.
93% of participants felt more knowledgeable about LGBTQIA+ issues after attending a Safe Zone training.
95% of participants felt more confident about speaking out about against homonegativity or transphobia as a result of the workshop.
How can I get involved?
- Attend an LGBTQIA+ awareness and education workshop (Module 1) - offered each fall and spring - or request a workshop for your student organization, department or office.
- Become a Safe Zone Ally. Go the extra mile and attend an Ally Development training (Module 2) in order to identify yourself as a Safe Zone Ally on campus. Safe Zone Allies display Safe Zone signs or buttons to denote their support and to signify safe, welcoming places on campus for members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Attend Module 3 of Safe Zone to explore unconscious implicit bias and how this may get enacted through microaggressions.
- Become a Safe Zone trainer. Each fall, we hold trainer trainings to develop a network of volunteers to lead training workshops throughout the year.
What does it mean to be a Safe Zone Ally?
Individuals who complete the process of becoming an ally recognize the presence and value of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals in our community. Safe Zone Allies also believe that campuses and communities are enriched by the diversity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals and are willing to assist individuals in accessing support and information resources on campus and in the community. Safe Zone Allies also agree to maintain confidentiality at work and comfortably use inclusive language, avoid stereotyping, and do not assume heterosexuality. Finally, Safe Zone allies agree to be positive, supportive and affirming to students, staff and faculty who wish to talk about being LGBTQIA+.
Safe Zone Allies are open and supportive to the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals and are willing to learn about issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity and expressions.