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.