Pride month is celebrated each year in the month of June and this year Endicott is sharing some exciting news. As part of a campus-wide diversity and inclusion initiative the College is holding Safe Zone Trainings for students, staff, and faculty and is projecting to have over 100 individuals Safe Zone trained by summer’s end.
The Safe Zone Project is a resource that aims to build powerful and effective LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning +) educational opportunities through awareness and ally training workshops. Safe Zone trainings offer the chance for participants to learn about LGBTQ+ identities, gender, and sexuality.
Brian Mannion, a counselor in Endicott’s Counseling Center, leads the Safe Zone Project initiative for the campus. He shared, “Safe Zone, for me personally, is something that I wished was on my campus when I was in college. But also, Safe Zone is the start of a conversation. This is a bigger conversation that I would like to see take off in relation to diversity and inclusion.”
Once participants are trained, they are given a Safe Zone Trained sticker to place wherever they’d like. These stickers are markers of acceptance across campus. Many participants stick them on their doors to signify their office as an accepting space, others decorate their water bottles or laptop cases with them for on-the-go visibility.
Mannion said, “Safe Zone is about having educated and aware people on our campus that students can feel comfortable talking to and know that they’ll be met with an open mind and an accepting person on the other side of that door or wherever the sticker is. It’s less about a physical place and more about the ideal for people to have relationships.”
Looking to the next academic year, Safe Zone trainings (one for students and one for faculty and staff) are planned to be held monthly. Mannion shared a few ways that he feels Safe Zone will promote inclusion and acceptance on Endicott’s campus. Here’s what he had to say.
There is pressure to know how to be LGBTQ+ inclusive and the truth is many don’t feel comfortable with the language, or don’t know where to go to learn more and gain that confidence. Safe Zone training is a safe place for everyone to learn.
It’s important to our students to know that the college is behind them. Just the simple fact of having these stickers on these doors increases visibility and increases the conversation. Students have these conversations, but it’s important that they know that staff and faculty are wanting to have it as well. That way, the community will feel more comfortable to be out and proud or be effective allies.
Allows Perspectives to Cross
We sometimes get caught up in our own camps and Safe Zone allows people to have an open and frank conversation. It gives faculty and staff an opportunity to interdepartmentally collaborate. Diversity and inclusion conversations are happening all over this campus and this is an opportunity to bring them to light.
Presents a Challenge
Students are coming to college wanting to be challenged. Wanting to have their thoughts, their beliefs, their world view challenged. Whether it changes things for them or it doesn’t, I think we as educators have a responsibility to create a space where students can have these tough conversations. We have a really cool opportunity to start to challenge students, staff, and faculty to reflect in different ways about communities that they may think that they know.
Allows for Mistakes
One of the first rules of Safe Zone Training is that this is a place where you can be open to look at something differently, to say the wrong thing, and learn how to shift it. Through Safe Zone, I’ve learned to communicate in different ways. I’d say to anyone considering the training, don’t be afraid to make those mistakes. Own them and learn from them. This stuff is not simple.
For more information on Safe Zone at Endicott contact email@example.com or Brian Mannion at 978-232-5157 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Interested in joining Endicott College Alliance (ECA), Endicott’s LGBTQ+ club on campus, contact email@example.com.