LGBTQ Support with Safe Zones

3By Michael Carmona

College of Southern Nevada launched a Safe Zone program to support members of the lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and questioning or queer communities.

CSN’s Safe Zone program is designed to promote a more welcoming, safe and inclusive environment for LGBTQ students.

Faculty and staff who want to be involved will take a three-hour training course on terminology, common issues students face, possible scenarios students deal with, among other important topics, with a goal of elevating their knowledge and abilities to help students through various situations.

Once certified, the faculty and staff will place Safe Zone stickers on their office doors. Those rooms are officially “Safe Zones” that LGBTQ students can go to if they need help or want to talk with someone.

March 27 launch event

March 27 launch event

“I feel that Safe Zone is important for anyone who feels like they don’t have a place to go to be accepted,” said Michael Pitta, CSN student who attended a launch event for the program on March 27.

Safe Zone programs have started throughout the country at several schools and workplaces. The Gay Alliance, a group that conducts full-day training programs, works with schools to develop confident and knowledgeable Safe Zone trainers.

Although CSN does not currently collect data on LGBTQ students on campus, there is an increasing awareness of the needs of this community.

According to Owen Pillion, chair of the Queer Inclusive College Committee, “The faculty and staff need this training because they may not be truly aware of the issues LGBTQ students may face.”

One issue Pillion explained was that there are few gender-neutral bathrooms at CSN. This poses an uncomfortable situation for transgender students who need to choose which bathroom to use. Some worry about how other students will react to them especially if they appear to be the other sex.

“These students face issues ranging from having an identity crisis to fearing rejection from loved ones if they come out,” said Leonardo Benavides, coordinator of the Office of Diversity Initiatives. “CSN needs a program like Safe Zone so that students dealing with these issues have a place to go to and not be afraid of being themselves.”

For more information about Safe Zone click this link http://www.csn.edu/pages/5025.asp.

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