University students in Tempe are seeking to expand a
program dedicated to increasing campus awareness and
acceptance of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and
transgender community. SafeZONE is a program that
helps fight stereotyping and discrimination through
education. SafeZONE provides three workshops: SafeZONE
101, Gender Identity 101, and Becoming an Ally, said
David Leo, one of about 15 SafeZONE facilitators.
Organizers are working to identify more groups
to take the workshops, such as ASU's Residential Life.
They want next year's resident assistants to make
their residence halls "safe spaces," said James Quinn,
president of ASU's LGBTQ Coalition.
"The place you are living is one of the most
important places to have a safe space," Quinn said.
"It's important for people to realize that not
everyone is of the same background. People don't realize
that they may be using hateful language or terms that
could make someone feel uncomfortable."
SafeZONE workshops, which are two hours long and
offered four times a semester, are key to helping
closeted LGBTQ individuals, said Lori Girshick, a
SafeZONE facilitator. "Maybe if enough people went,
closeted individuals would know that there is nothing wrong
with being who they are," Girshick said. "The issue of
LGBTQ sensitivity isn't about special rights. It's
about basic human beliefs and compassion."
In addition to workshops, SafeZONE also provides
a list of nearly 30 local businesses that have
designated themselves as LGBTQ-friendly. (AP)