Safe Zone is designed to create consciously designated "safe" spaces on campuses for all LGBTQ students. The program focuses on LGBTQ students for protection because this issue remains largely invisible in the classroom and in the law. Homophobia, transphobia, and heterosexism are socially acceptable in many schools. Even in classrooms where bigotry is not tolerated, LGBTQ issues are considered taboo and not appropriate for discussion.
While there is a need for programs that specifically address anti-LGBTQ bias, it is also important to acknowledge the interconnectedness of all prejudices. The same conditions that allow homophobia and transphobia to develop most likely promote racism, classism, sexism, ableism, and other forms of prejudice. Any effort to reduce one type of bias will help reduce other kinds of bias, and will help individuals from a variety of backgrounds feel safer. In this way, a Safe Zone program focused on LGBTQ students may serve as a springboard for work in other areas.
Just as all forms of oppression are related, so too are the many identities within each of us. None of us are just one thing—we all have sexual, gender, religious, ethnic, racial, class, and other identities that mingle together in complex ways. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are also Black and Latina/o, Jewish and Muslim, rich and poor, physically or mentally gifted and challenged. When LGBTQ people are targeted for harassment, it is often about more than just sexual orientation or gender identity. A Safe Zone program that protects LGBTQ people should therefore be designed to incorporate other “isms” through coalitions and partnerships with other groups both on and off campus.
You may have seen a sticker or sign that says “Safe Zone” or “Safe Zone Trained.” These visual indicators can mean a variety of thing. Most often we find they indicate that the person displaying the sticker has gone through a Safe Zone training and wants to communicate to others that they are open to talking about and being supportive of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning +) individuals and identities.
Monterey Peninsula College LGBTQIA Safe Zone Program aims to increase awareness of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA) communities on campus, to support the college’s efforts to promote an accepting, supportive, and diverse learning environment, and to create a welcoming and tolerant environment for all members of the campus community.