"There was a Safe Zone program at my school. Some faculty and staff had a rainbow logo that said “Safe Space” outside their doors if they had been trained on how to deal and listen to LGBTQ+ issues, so it was easy to tell who would be a safe person to talk to. Growing up in an LGBTQ+ repressing environment like the Middle East for me, this was huge. Just knowing that there were faculty and staff that I could talk to if I needed. That had a great impact on me as an educator and it helped me see that I am not the only one who struggled with my identity”
Imagine if one of your students, teachers, parents, co-workers, were struggling with their identity or a school situation and saw this sticker on your laptop, office, door, bag, etc. How would it make them feel knowing that you are an LGBTQ+ Ally? The Boys & Girls Clubs of Albany is a very welcoming place to people from different backgrounds. However the inherited binary name does not exactly scream LGBTQ+ friendly." - That's exactly how I pitched the idea of creating a Safe Zone Program/Training for our organization, and my boss agreed! The plot twist was, that I had zero budget to implement it.
After contacting organizations that advocate for LGBTQ+ issues in the area I failed to convince them to train our team without a monetary value. However, they helped me in obtaining some guides, flyers, resources and plenty of LGBTQ+ branded merchandise.
Luckily, University at Albany was offering a Safe Space Training Certification workshop through their outstanding Gender and Sexuality Resource Center. I signed up, took my notorious notes on content and training methods. I asked the trainer for additional resources and he pointed me in the right direction. I also did some research on creating a Safe Zone program and found some great resources like The Safe Zone Project , HRC's Safe Zone, It's Pronounced Metrosexual. After that, I managed to create a customized curriculum based on our organizational needs and conducted the training that met the following objectives:
Gain awareness & insight into lives of LGBTQ+ people.
Identify Individual perceptions and biases around issues of sex, sexual identity and gender identity.
Recognize appropriate language regarding sexual and gender identities.
Identify ways to support LGBTQ+ people.
The participation and engagement of my peers was fantastic and it brought conversations to the table that we have never addressed as a team. We had people sharing stories from different walks of lives and relating things to their students and after school programming. Human Resources is considering this a part of our required staff Personal Development and that makes me very happy as it seems like I might have left a pink print in our organization.