The Role of a Safe Zone Advocate or Ally
Visibility is an important part of being a Safe Zone ally. Advocates and allies are expected to display the Safe Zone Card in a location that is visible to others.
What is expected of a person trained in Safe Zone?
- Provide a welcoming, nonjudgmental environment for students, faculty, and staff.
- Respect others’ experiences and views.
- Be an active listener.
- Be discreet and respect privacy.
- Use inclusive, non-gender-specific language that does not reflect assumptions about the gender identity or sexual orientation of others.
- Learn about resources for LGBTQIGNC (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, gender-non-comforming) people at The New School and in the surrounding community so that you can provide appropriate referrals.
- Know your own biases and fears. Know what you are comfortable talking about, and be prepared to refer individuals to others when necessary.
- Know your limits. Know when it is necessary to refer individuals to an expert who can assist them better.
- Provide honest feedback at the close of training to improve the program.
- Participate in periodic assessments of the effectiveness and impact of this program.
- Join others trained in Safe Zone for workshops and meetings to practice your skills and receive further education about LGBTQIGNC issues and concerns.
Taking action to become an ally
A Safe Zone ally is someone who offers support to LGBTQIGNC individuals or communities.
- Awareness: Familiarize yourself with the experience of LGBTQIGNC people through reading, talking with LGBTQIGNC people, and attending workshops, and build awareness through self-examination.
- Knowledge and Education: Learn about policies, laws, and practices affecting LGBTQIGNC people. Educate yourself about the many communities and cultures within the LGBTQIGNC community.
- Skills: Learn to apply your awareness and knowledge when interacting with others. You can acquire skills by attending workshops, role-playing with friends or peers, and developing support connections.
- Action: Taking action is an important way to effect change in society as a whole.
Important points to keep in mind
- Remember that gender identity and sexual orientation are only part of a person’s identity. Individuals must also deal with other aspects of their identity: socioeconomic status, religion or faith, race, ethnicity. An understanding of intersectionality is critical for effective social justice work.
- Be aware that any person you talk to could be straight, gay or lesbian, bisexual, questioning, queer, transgender, intersex, asexual, and/or gender nonconforming.
- Avoid using terms such as boyfriend and girlfriend; use partner or spouse instead.
- Recognize that coming out is a process and not a one-time event. The process of coming out is unique to each member of the LGBTQIGNC community and poses challenges that may not be widely understood.
- Understand that we live in a society lacking in awareness of issues of gender identity and sexual orientation. As a result, both straight and LGBTQIGNC people suffer from internalized biphobia, transphobia, homophobia, and heterosexism.
- Remember that LGBTQIGNC people are diverse; each community within the LGBTQIGNC community and each individual within each community has unique needs and goals.
What can I do?
- If you work in an office or belong to an organization, review its publications. Suggest changes to remove noninclusive language.
- Avoid making homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic remarks, jokes, and statements. Consider speaking with others making such remarks or jokes to raise their awareness.
- Create an atmosphere of acceptance in your environment through education. Share your experiences with others.
- Join with LGBTQIGNC people to protect their civil rights and constitutional freedoms.
- Report all instances of harassment or discriminatory behavior to the appropriate officials.
- Display materials supporting the LGBTQIGNC community (flyers for activities, posters, cards, a Safe Zone sign, etc.).
- Seek out accurate information and stay up-to-date about issues affecting the LGBTQIGNC community.