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University of Illinois Springfield

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, and Allied Resource Office University of Illinois Springfield

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Safe Zone

What is Safe Zone? Look for this sign across campus.

Safe Zone members are identified by this sign that they hang on their office door or living space, or by other Safe Zone visual indicators, and are trained to be better allies to LGBTQ students. Members agree that they work to provide a personal space that is free from homophobia, heterosexism, and transphobia while serving as a resource to LGBTQ and allied students. All students, staff, and faculty are eligible to join. “This is a safe place to talk about LGBTQ and heterosexual issues and concerns.”

UIS Safe Zone Sign for members

Training Session Reviews:

A phenomenal program with noble goals of supporting and advocating on behalf of the LGBTQ community. Very encouraging and inspiring.

Very helpful information presented in a very comfortable atmosphere.

Wasn’t sure I would learn anything – but really did!

The fundamental session was extremely informative. Need to take a class more than a session.

Program was engaging, new, kept my interest. I was impressed!

I feel this information is highly practical in the potential of sharing this information and helping individuals.

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Register to Become a Member

Potential members must complete the Fundamentals Session and two advanced sessions. All staff can attend with permission of supervisor. Members achieve additional star stickers for their Safe Zone sign to indicate completion of an advanced session.

Fundamentals Session (Must attend or test out online):
A basic awareness and knowledge session that prepares participants for the five advanced sessions. This introductory three hour session includes a guided imagery, interactive terminology game, an introduction to trans identities as well as the human sexuality continuum, and a LGBT Icon’s in History game with an emphasis on multiple identities. Student peer educators conclude with an engaging Gay 101 activity and interactive panel.

  • Safe Zone Fundamentals Session –  - Register online
  • Safe Zone Fundamentals Session – Thursday, February 6, 2014, 4-7PM, PAC Rm GRegister online

Test Out of Fundamentals online! After successfully completing the online test, you will be able register for your two required advanced sessions. The Fundamentals test out should take about 30-60 minutes. Keep in mind, this test is to evaluate your knowledge and competencies regarding issues pertaining to and affecting LGBTQ individuals. Failure to prove sufficient expertise would mean that you will have to attend a Fundamentals session to continue with the Safe Zone program. You automatically pass with a score of 90% or above.

Instructions to access Safe Zone Test Out:

  1. Click the link below to direct you to Test Out webpage.
  2. Click the green “Continue” button as displayed.
  3. Input your UIS ID and password.
  4. Locate “The Safe Zone Hub” course.
  5. Click the link to access the Course
  6. Click “Enroll me” to gain access.

Click this link to begin: https://uistraining1.uis.edu/

Advanced Sessions—must complete two:

  • Transgender Advanced Session: Monday, February 17, 2014 – 12-2PM, PAC Rm. G: Transgender people continue to be an invisible, often forgotten community. This session helps participants develop self-awareness and compassion and to think critically about their own assumptions and vulnerabilities as related to gender. Participants will learn about the gender binary, understand accurate terms, explore potential gender transition processes, and consider common concerns and challenges in higher education. This session is recommended for any person wanting to learn how to become a better ally to this population. – Register online
  • Religion Advanced Session: Friday, March 7, 2014 – 12-2PM, PAC Rm. H: God does not condemn LGBTQ people. This session allows for participants to confidentially share their own faith or beliefs while introducing key challenges facing LGBTQ people seeking to balance both identities. Participants will gain information and LGBTQ-supportive resources in a Judeo-Christian context, as well as thoughtful, respectful language and strategies to engage with people of faith. Recommended for any potential Safe Zone member that may be struggling with this issue or in need of information to support LGBTQ students of faith. – Register online
  • Safe Dating & Relationships Advanced Session: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 – 4-6PM, PAC Rm. G: How do LGBTQ students and people meet, date, and define relationships? This engaging session covers sensitive and mature issues such as hooking up online and keeping it safe, dating scripts, sex and sexuality, HIV and STD disclosure, and an overview of intimate partner violence. Care is given to provide a safe zone of confidentiality to all participants. Recommended for those who interact with students, particularly students entering the dating pool or potentially engaging in sex. - Register online
  • Multiple Identities Advanced Session: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 – 4-6PM, Lincoln Residence Hall Great Room: Not all LGBTQ people are White or Atheist. This cross cultural session allows for participants to share their own multiple identities; explores the intersections between race, culture, sexual orientation, and gender; and helps to illuminate the challenges of LGBTQ students with multiple identities. A particular emphasis is made on how different cultures and communities in the U.S. and internationally understand and define sexuality and gender minorities. Participants will leave with a personal action plan to use and reflect on in their daily life at UIS. - Register online
  • Bisexuality & Pansexuality Advanced Session: Thursday, April 24, 2014 – 12-2PM, PAC Rm. G: An incredibly interactive session that dispels myths, defines terminology, and explains sexuality as a spectrum. Participants will gain a greater awareness of bisexuality as a valid sexual orientation and how biphobia manifests in the heterosexual as well as non-heterosexual populations. This session is recommended for anyone in need of understanding sexual identity development over the lifespan. – Register online

Still do not understand how to become a member? Download this “How it Works” graphic.

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Why have a Safe Zone program at UIS?

Safe Zone programs have proven to be useful in affecting campus climate change (Evans, 2002; Poynter & Tubbs, 2008), while the associated trainings create more accepting attitudes among Safe Zone members (Finkel, 2003). In the spring of 2012, UIS LGB students rated the overall climate less positive than their heterosexual peers at UIS (UI University Wide Climate Survey, 2012). Additionally, students who do not identify as male or female “are less positive about the overall climate at the University of Illinois” (p. 8). In a separate study of UIS (Karuppaswamy and Poynter, 2010), UIS LGBTQ students who are very out and have been for a long time reported that the climate did not contribute to their quality of life or sense of well-being. These results mirror the National College Climate Survey (Rankin, Weber, Blumenfeld, & Frazer, 2010) which reported that “all LGBT students rated their campus environment less positively than did ‘straight’ students” (p.2), and LGBT “individuals (are) the least accepted group when compared to other under-served populations and, consequently, more likely to indicate deleterious experiences and less than welcoming campus climates” (p.9). Other studies nationwide, have found that LGBTQ students encounter a less than welcoming environment at the collegiate level (Noack, 2004; Rankin, 2003).

The public identification of Safe Zone members can help alleviate the real or perceived climate concerns for the LGBTQ population. The Safe Zone program can also help students in the earlier stages of coming out, as well as students in the general university population, to understand their multiple identities (race, sexual orientation, etc.) in order to better process through the life issues they will encounter throughout their college experience (relationships, family, religion, etc.).

References

Evans, N. (2002). The impact of an LGBT Safe Zone Project on campus climate. Journal of College Student Development, 43, 522-539.

Finkel M.J., et al. (2003). Diversity training in graduate school: An exploratory evaluation of the Safe Zone Project, Professional Psychology, Research and Practice, 34, 555-561.

Karappaswamy, N., & Poynter, K. (2010). A needs assessment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning students at the University of Illinois Springfield: A multiphase qualitative study. Unpublished raw data.

Evans, N.J., & Broido, E.M. (2005). Encouraging the development of social justice attitudes and actions in heterosexual students. In Reason, R.D.; Broido, E. M.; Davis, T. L.; & Evans, J. P. (Eds.), Developing social justice allies: New directions in student services, 110, 43-54. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

Noack, K. W. (2004). An assessment of the campus climate for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons as perceived by the faculty, staff, and administration at Texas A&M University. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation.

Poynter, K., & Tubbs, N. J. (2008). Safe zones: Creating LGBT safe space ally programs, Journal of LGBT Youth, 5, 121–132.

Rankin, S. (2003). Campus climate for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people: A national perspective. New York: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute.

Rankin, S., Weber, G., Blumenfeld, W., & Frazer, S. (2010). 2010 state of higher education for lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender people. Charlotte, NC: Campus Pride.

University of Illinois climate survey results and reports (2012). Retrieved August 22, 2012, from http://www.uillinois.edu/ClimateSurvey/ResultsReports.cfm.

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History

The coordinating committee used the 2011/2012 academic year to listen and talk to current members about their continuing needs, reviewed the visibility and operating procedures of the program, and practiced facilitation skills. A new curriculum has been written that includes material on multiple identities, the intersections of faith and sexuality, and a stronger trans and bisexuality emphasis. Pilot testing of the curriculum occurred over the summer of 2012. Additionally, trained “inQUEERY” student peer educators will, for the first time, play a role in facilitating. This new Safe Zone streamlines the process of becoming a member while maintain a training commitment that is steeped in best practices and contemporary education.

Safe Zone began at UIS over seven years ago as an ad-hoc committee of staff, faculty, and students from across the university. In its duration, the program has trained hundreds of students, staff, and faculty to be better allies to the LGBTQ community at UIS.

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Coordinating Committee

  • Dr. Holly Kent – Assistant Professor, History
  • Dr. Juanita Ortiz – Assistant Professor, Criminal Justice
  • Deb Ply – Office Manager, Office of Undergraduate Education
  • Kerry Poynter – Director, LGBTQA Resource Office
  • Michael Stephens – Graduate Assistant, LGBTQA Resource Office
  • Dr. Holly Thompson – Associate Professor, Human Development Counseling

If you are interested in joining the coordinating committee, facilitation team, would like to request a training, or have questions, please contact the LGBTQA Resource Office at lgbtq@uis.edu or 217-206-8316.

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