You’ve probably seen the stickers around campus, either on someone’s dorm door or a professor’s office door. They’re the Safe Zone stickers, which indicate that the area they're posted on is a safe haven for homosexuals, and now I can say I’m a proud owner of one.
To get the sticker, you need to go to the Safe Zone Training. It’s run by the Office of Institutional Diversity but it’s closely linked to Spectrum, the resident Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transsexual (LGBT for short) support club on campus.
I’d been meaning to go to one of these training sessions since sophomore year, but schedule conflicts always arose. I finally got to go this year and I have to say, wow.
A lot of it was sort of what I was expecting. In the latter half they talked about LGBT issues, like the rights homosexuals are restricted from having and what strides have been made to counteract homophobia and heterosexual privilege (which is what it sounds like: giving more rights and preference to heterosexual persons and couples over homosexuals).
It was the way the program started off, however, that surprised me.
We were each given a colored star. There were four colors: red, blue, green and yellow. Then Sharon Brown, Director of the Office of Institutional Diversity and the one running the training, had us write down something on each point of the star. We wrote down:
- Our best friend’s name
- The family member we're closest to
- Our dreams for the future
- Our career aspiration
- A group or community we’re associated with.
Then Brown read from a list of scenarios. For example, the first scenario was that each of us, pretending to have just come out of the closet as homosexuals, told our best friend about it. Some of us were lucky: if we had a blue or yellow star (I had blue), our best friend supported us. But the others’ weren’t so fortunate: their best friend rejected them, and they had to tear off that point of the star and let it fall to the floor.
It might have just been a piece of paper, but there was something excruciating about hearing that ripping sound and see the pieces fall. I was fortunate enough not to have to rip off any of my pieces, but someone people had all of theirs ripped off.
The worst part? That’s what some people go through every day. There are people who are hated and turned against just because they have a different sexual preference. It was really an eye-opening experience.
If you want to go to one of these Safe Zone Training sessions, they’ll hold more next semester. Would anyone be interested in going?