Safe Zone FAQs

Safe Zone is a campus-wide training program committed to making The University of Arizona a safer, more welcoming, and inclusive environment for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) community. The intention of the program is to shift campus climate through education. All workshops are free and open to the campus community. Any student, staff, or faculty member is welcome, and all are strongly encouraged to participate. An individual’s participation in Safe Zone often sends a strong message to campus community members that they are an identifiable source of support and nurturance for LGBTQ+ students, staff, and faculty on our campus. 

Having a Safe Zone training is not unique to the University of Arizona. In the United States, beginning in the 1990s, groups of faculty, staff, and students began to develop and implement educational trainings on LGBTQA+ identity in response to pervasive homophobia and transphobia on college campuses (Fox and Ore, 2010; Poynter and Tubbs, 2008).

According to the Safe Zone Project, “You may have seen a sticker or sign that says ‘Safe Zone’ or ‘Safe Zone Trained.’ These visual indicators can mean a variety of things in different communities. 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” (Safe Zone Project, 2018).

While there are various recommended curricula, there is no one official Safe Zone training. While the fact that the Safe Zone programming is run by the LGBTQA+ Center focuses the curricula on these identities, our team also fundamentally believes that all conversations about gender and sexuality must be intersectional, attending to the ways in which race, nationality, religion, disability, class, and other social identities shape power dynamics and impact experiences of both privilege and marginalization.

Unfortunately, the brevity of the Safe Zone workshops limits the amount of material we can cover. These workshops are meant to be a start, rather than end, of conversations about diversity, inclusivity, and the dismantling of systems of oppression, including but not at all limited to cissexism and heterosexism. In line with Patricia Hill Collins understanding of the matrix of domination, our team understands all systems of oppression as being interconnected. We are committed to understanding the ways in which we, as individuals and larger social groups, are both advantaged and disadvantaged by these dynamics. We are also committed to coalition building with the other cultural and resource centers at the University of Arizona and highly recommend that, in addition to the Safe Zone workshops, faculty, staff, and students on campus pursue other educational trainings offered by these centers.

Given the high demand for Safe Zone training and our limited set of resources, we have moved our workshops online to best meet our campus’ needs. During the year, we plan to offer a limited set of Safe Zone in-person trainings to larger groups (e.g. departments/units). These trainings are available on a first-come, first-serve basis and may be unavailable based on our staff’s capacity.

If you are interested in holding an in-person Safe Zone training for your department or unit, please contact Rachel Greene at rachelgreene@email.arizona.edu.

The General Education Workshop aims to provide an introduction on LGBTQA+ identity and experience to individuals who may be approaching this information for the first time. That said, participants with more intermediate or advanced background report benefitting from the included modules, especially given the emphasis placed on interaction between participants and with facilitators. The LGBTQA+ is an umbrella term that encompasses a whole host of different intersectional identities, so there’s always something new to learn!

The Ally Development workshop is designed to be the second part to the General Education Safe Zone Workshop. The material in this workshop builds on the groundwork laid by the previous workshop. Workshop participants will be introduced to concepts of identity and privilege to help explain how being an ally can be complicated work. Participants will be able to engage with student panel videos where issues specific to campus are shared and come up with ways in which they can create tangible change in their roles on campus. Finally, participants will be asked to reflect on their own identities and ideas of what allyship means. Participants who complete this workshop will receive a Safe Zone Completion Placard to post in their office or study space.

Anyone with a UA Net-ID is able to sign up for the Safe Zone General Education Workshop. This includes faculty, staff, graduate students, and undergraduate students. Anyone, including members of the LGBTQA+ community, can enroll in this workshop.

Upon completing the General Education Workshop, interested individuals are encouraged to enroll in the Ally Development Workshop to engage more rigorously in conversations about combating homophobia, transphobia, and other systems of oppression and how to support LGBTQA+ community members. To enroll in the Ally Development Workshop, participants must have previously completed the General Education Workshop.

As a whole, the University of Arizona currently does not require that staff, faculty, and students participate in the Safe Zone. That said, individual units (e.g. courses, departments, workplaces) might require that their students or employees complete the General Education Workshop.

The Safe Zone team does not mandate that anyone complete the General Education Workshop. If you are having any difficulties with being required to take the Safe Zone General Education Workshop, we recommend you discuss this with your professor or supervisor.

Individuals cannot be required to complete the Safe Zone Ally Development workshop. We believe that while you can require that an employee or student become educated about the LGBTQ+ community, a person’s decision to practice allyship must be fully voluntary and based in genuine commitment and care.

We estimate that completion of the General Education Workshop will take most participants between 2 to 3 hours. Completion of the Ally Development Workshop will take between 2 to 2.5 hours.

In both the General Education and Ally Development Workshop syllabi, the Safe Zone team has provided a recommended timeline for completing the sessions required tasks within the 10-day period. That said, participants are able to adjust this plan to best fit their schedules.

At this time, we are unable to offer extended time to participants for the Safe Zone General Education and Ally Development Workshops absent a documented accommodation through the Disability Resource Center.

If you are unable to complete the workshop during the current session, we invite you to sign up for a new session on our registration page.

We HIGHLY RECOMMEND copying the work that you have completed (e.g. discussion posts) to use in this future workshop so that you do not have to replicate work that you have already completed. After the workshop session closes, you might lose access to these submissions, so be sure to save them before the session end-date.

Participants who complete the General Education Workshop will receive a Digital Safe Zone Badge. Upon completing the General Education Workshop, interested individuals are encouraged to enroll in the Ally Development Workshop to more rigorously engage in conversations about combating homophobia, transphobia, and other systems of oppression and how to support LGBTQA+ community members. To enroll in the Ally Development Workshop, participants must have previously completed the General Education Workshop.

Participants who continue on to complete the Ally Development workshop will receive a Safe Zone Network Digital Badge, which can be displayed in their email signature as marker of their support and commitment to the LGBTQ+ community as well as their position as a potential resource for LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff.

If you are interested in becoming more involved in Safe Zone, please contact Yesenia Andrade at andradey@catworks.arizona.edu or Jen Hoefle Olson at jhoefle@email.arizona.edu.

After completing the Safe Zone General Education workshop, we highly recommend that interested participants enroll in the Ally Development Workshop. In the Ally Development workshop, participants will This workshop is designed to be the second part to the General Education Safe Zone Workshop. The material in this workshop builds on the groundwork laid by the previous workshop. Workshop participants will be introduced to concepts of identity and privilege to help explain how being an ally can be complicated work. Participants will be able to engage with student panel videos where issues specific to campus are shared and come up with ways in which they can create tangible change in their roles on campus. Finally, participants will be asked to reflect on their own identities and ideas of what allyship means. Participants who complete this workshop will receive a Safe Zone Completion Placard to post in their office or study space.

Additionally, you can learn more by talking a look at the Continuing Education Resource Guides.  Here you will find resource guides on a variety of different topics, such as campus climate, creating inclusive classrooms or department, and on specific identities.