Safe Zone Training teaches students about LGBTQ community

Chuck Miller/Staff Photographer Grant senior Stephanie Pocsi (right) and Muskegon senior Kaite Young-Kendall (left) stand in Rowe 229 Thursday afternoon during an activity for the Safe Zone training program. The purpose of the training is to provide the campus community with the tools necessary to be a Safe Zone for our LGBT students, faculty, and staff. This event is a part of Coming Out Week.

The LGBTQ community at Central Michigan University can rely on the Safe Zone to provide educational opportunities for people to learn acceptance strategies.

The Safe Zone training program Thursday was created to provide the campus community with the tools to create a safer environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered students and faculty members on campus. Through training, attendees received an overview of terminology, the current campus climate for the LGBTQ community, issues facing the LGBTQ community and the importance of a Safe Zone at CMU.

The intentions for the Safe Zone event were to make people more comfortable with their sexuality along with providing a non-threatening atmosphere. It also discusses how to be more supportive of others.

"Meeting people where they are and recognizing, not forcing them to talk about it; it's more about not trying to force them through the process,"  Director of LGBTQ Services Shannon Joliff-Dettore said. "So many people aren't ready to take their first step; sometimes that validation that someone is supporting you, can really help in their first step."

In the Safe Zone Training program, activities were done to make a clear understanding regarding LGBTQ programs that are available on campus.

During a student voices activity, stories were shared about students who have had issues on campus dealing with their sexual orientation.

Other activities were done to try better understand certain terminologies and "standing up" for specific scenarios that were listed. This event tied in with the Coming Out Week by showing students and faculty members that they have people to turn to.

"Coming out, knowing you have a support system that has your back is extremely helpful," Lake Orion senior Lauren Kellogg said. "The stickers we hand out help students represent that they have a safe area and people to talk to."

This event helped people by showing them the importance of being open-minded and respectful to everyone regarding their sexual orientation, race and even religion.

"I'm a safe person and I put myself out there," Joliff-Dettore said.

Joliff-Dettore said there are many sources around campus that are more than willing to help people in need of assistance.

"People here are from every county of Michigan, there's a great amount of diversity," Joliff-Dettore said. "We need to have more open dialogue so students hear the impact of how they treat people. Now we're reaching out to Greek Life."

The safe training program is a program made to help faculty and students to be comfortable with their sexual orientation.

"It's important for people to know they have knowledge to make an educated decision rather than having a lack of understanding," Kellogg said.


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