The Dean of Students Office offers Safe Zone to educate the Illinois State University community on how to support to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) individuals. This program provides students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to create highly visible and easily identifiable safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people on Illinois State’s campus.
During the two-hour orientation session, participants learn introductory LGBTQ+ vocabulary and concepts, engage in a mock coming-out exercise, practice ally skills, and receive resources. After the orientation session, participants have the opportunity to sign a Safe Zone Member Agreement that affirms their intention to serve as an ally to LGBTQ+ persons on campus. Participants are not required to sign the Member Agreement; they may attend only to increase their personal knowledge and awareness.
Safe Zone Members agree to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ+ individuals and commit to continually educating themselves on LGBTQ+ issues. Members agree to be a resource to LGBTQ+ individuals and to make appropriate referrals when needed.
The Safe Zone symbol is a rainbow triangle. Individuals who have received Safe Zone training and who have signed the Safe Zone Member Agreement display a Safe Zone symbol that demonstrates their respect and support of LGBTQ+ individuals and their commitment to providing a space where bigotry and discrimination are not tolerated.
After Matthew Shepard’s death at the University of Wyoming in 1998, many colleges and universities across the nation held candlelight vigils and took a stand for students who identify as LGBTQ+. They realized there needed to be an initiative to raise awareness on LGBTQ+ issues and to create an accepting and inclusive environment. Illinois State was one of the universities, and we launched the Safe Zone program in the spring of 1999. The program has been updated over the years to reflect current issues and appropriate language.
For more information, email Safe Zone at safezone@IllinoisState.edu.