• The Role of a Safe Zone Advocate or Ally

    Visibility is an important part of being a person trained in Safe Zone. Advocates and allies are expected to display the Safe Zone Card in a location that is visible to others.

    As a person trained in Safe Zone, you are expected to:

    • 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 LGBTQIAGNC (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, asexual, gender-non-conforming) 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 Safe Zone.
    • Attend Safe Zone workshops and meetings to practice your skills and receive further education about LGBTQIAGNC issues and concerns.

    Building Skills as an Ally and/or Advocate

    A Safe Zone ally and/or advocate is someone who offers support to LGBTQIAGNC individuals or communities. As a Safe Zone advocate, you you are expected to gain:

    • Awareness: Familiarize yourself with the experience of people who identify as LGBTQIAGNC through reading articles and books and attending workshops, and build awareness through self-examination.
    • Knowledge and Education: Learn about policies, laws, and practices affecting LGBTQIAGNC people. Educate yourself about the many communities and cultures within the LGBTQIAGNC 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, trans, 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 LGBTQIAGNC 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 LGBTQIAGNC people suffer from internalized biphobia, transphobia, homophobia, and heterosexism.
    • Remember that LGBTQIAGNC people are diverse; each community within the LGBTQIAGNC 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, transphobic, and heterosexist 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 LGBTQIAGNC people to protect their civil rights and constitutional freedoms.
    • Report all instances of harassment or discriminatory behavior to the appropriate school officials.
    • Display materials supporting the LGBTQIAGNC community (flyers for activities, posters, cards, a Safe Zone sign, etc.).
    • Seek out accurate information and stay up-to-date about issues affecting the LGBTQIGANC community.