Safe zone focuses on allies

Justin Law

A pink, upside-down triangle dominates the corkboard outside Stephanie Young’s office. Surrounding the triangle are newspaper clippings from “The Shield” covering the Day of Silence and Safe Zone events from last year, pamphlets for Spectrum and various gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) pictures.

Young, assistant professor of communication studies, is a LGBT activist, and is trying to create an inviting, visible campus for LGBT students at USI.

“It’s my duty as an educator, an activist and a bisexual woman to address LGBT issues,” Young said. “For many of our students, going to college is the first time they get to be open about their sexual and gender identity and as a university it is our responsibility to be supportive.”


Her support continued Oct. 29 with the fall Safe Zone training.

Young, along with co-founder of Safe Zone at USI Amie McKibban, trained 47 students on how they can be an ally to the LGBT community.

“Safe Zone training is just one of many things that we can do to let them know that we are here, we are open and we are here to allow you to be who you are,” Young said.

The three hour training started with basic terminology of sexual identity and sexual orientation, a lecture of slang terms and stereotypes, a number of activities and visualizations, skits and group discussions.

“It’s so frustrating that we only have three hours,” Mckibban said. “It seems like a long time but people always leave saying it needs to be longer.”

A large part of the session focuses on how to be an ally to the LGBT community., discussions about what it means and suggestions on how to be an ally whether they are a part of the LGBT community or a straight ally.

“The last part, which is usually people favorite, we sit groups of students together and give real life scenarios,” McKibban said. “Together they discuss how they would react to certain situations.”

Chris Brace, junior Spanish major, went into the training with a lot of knowledge regarding the LGBT community and issues that come with it.

“I was really lucky when I came out,” Brace said. “All my friends and family were supportive and I was really encouraged to be myself and open, but I if I didn’t have that I would want someone to be there and talk to about my issues. That is why I did training to be prepared if I am ever in that situation.”

Everyone who participates gets a pin with an upside down pink triangle, a matching bumper sticker and the knowledge to help those individuals in need in the LGBT community.

“The project is really good for people that have never encountered the LGBT community,” Brace said. “Knowledge is power and if you know about something you are much less likely to be afraid of it.”

Young and McKibban are currently planning  a training session for faculty and staff in the spring.