In the past year, 42 faculty and staff have participated in Dominican University of California’s “Safe Zone” training, an initiative developed by the University’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI) and the Diversity Action Group (DAG).
The Safe Zone training program is a small-group, multi-session, intensive training that aims to identify, educate, and support members of the campus community who are dedicated to affirming and supporting LGBTQ+ individuals and causes both on- and off-campus. Faculty and staff who have completed training may display signage on their office doors identifying the space as safe, welcoming, and supportive for LGBTQ+ students.
“The goal is to ensure faculty and staff are prepared to serve as role models for inclusivity for our students,” says ODEI Director Stacy Poe.
The Safe Zone training has resulted in a culture shift on campus with increased awareness of how to create an inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ students, Poe notes.
“There is increased awareness by faculty of the importance of pronouns and accurate names,” Poe says. “Overall students are feeling that faculty are more engaged and sensitive to all types of diversity which is impacting their awareness of more diverse student experiences in the classroom.”
Recently, Poe received an email from the parent of a prospective student noting the importance of LGBTQ+ inclusivity efforts.
“The parent described how she and her student were impressed with the initiatives she saw on the website that let them know that the student would be in a welcoming environment if they chose to attend DU. She said that they were considering LGBTQ+ resources and environment in their college search.”
The Safe Zone training is facilitated by DAG members who have been trained extensively to lead small groups in order to gain deeper understanding of LGBTQ+ identities and lived experiences; examine the relationship between gender and language; gain a deeper understanding of intersectionality and privilege; and explore ally-ship as it applies to the LGBTQ+ community.
Additional Safe Zone training will be held in the 2022/23 academic year.