In 1992, Illinois State University adopted equal opportunity enrollment and employment policies, stating that a person's sexual orientation cannot be used as a criterion for influencing student or employee outcomes. Sexual orientation is also an element of Illinois State University's Plan for Diversity. Illinois State University wants its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) students and employees to feel comfortable throughout the campus environment so that they can perform at their best.
Many people, however, are unaware of the facts about LGBTQ+ individuals. Many LGBTQ+ students and employees feel that honesty and openness would result in their being treated differently than their peers. Consequently they often feel a need to hide their sexual orientations and anything about their personal lives that might reveal their sexual orientations.
The result is that these students and employees often experience a sense of isolation. When they need to discuss personal problems with peers, supervisors or instructors, they don't know whom they can trust. Conversely, allies who are supportive of diversity often do not know how to appropriately show their support to LGBTQ+ individuals.
Therefore, Illinois State University has designed Safe Zone as a way for individuals in the University community to show that their workspace is a safe space for LGBTQ+ individuals. The Safe Zone emblem has been created to provide a visible, non-threatening way for individuals within the campus community to show that they are allies and participants in the Safe Zone program. Displaying this emblem shows LGBTQ+ individuals that they can feel safe in that environment. All individuals participating in the Safe Zone program will have attended a training session to assist in their efforts to support LGBTQ+ individuals.
Safe Zone provides a visible and non-threatening way for faculty/staff to make a statement that understanding and support is offered at Illinois State. It also shows unsupportive individuals that homophobia, heterosexism, and hostility will not be tolerated. Safe Zone provides lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) students and employees with easily identifiable and supportive spaces to feel comfortable and safe in a confidential environment; allows them to express any issues and concerns in an atmosphere of acceptance and support; and to provides them with access to informational and educational resources including organizations, phone numbers, Web sites and books.