According to the Safe Zone Project, the definition of a safe zone is: “a term used to refer to LGBTQIA awareness workshops…Displaying “Safe Zone” stickers can help an organization communicate to others a commitment to creating LGBTQ-inclusive environments.”
In order for it to be a safe zone, according to the Safe Zone Project, that person needs to have “gone through a 30 minute overview on LGBT terminology,” and even then they say that is a “bit shy” on the level of training they want. Safe Zones are places where those who are struggling with these kinds of issues can go and feel included. This is a good thing for the most part because of the culture here in Utah, and it’s important that everyone feels welcomed and comfortable. It’s also important that everyone feels accepted and normal, for those who are straight and those who are LGBT.
So what is the problem with Safe Zones?
For one thing they have a divisive nature. Places without this sticker, or those who aren’t trained in all the LGBT terminology, are considered not safe or not “allies.” It says something on how humans view each other. If an individual does not want to learn all of the millions of terms and their correct uses in order to be considered safe zone trained, should that person automatically be labeled as unsafe?
Not only that, but is it fair that the majority of the population should have to restructure themselves to learn these new terms so that they can make themselves sound less “ignorant” or “insensitive”? After all, the LGBT population only accounts for roughly 3.8% of America’s population according to a Gallup poll done in 2015. Does it sound reasonable that 96% of the population should change their views and opinion based on such a low percentage of people?
What this also does is separate us into people who are safe-zone trained, and those who are not. It also implies that those who are not safe-zone trained are insensitive to the problems of LGBT people. This divisiveness is not what is needed in our country currently.
“It would be awesome as a community if we could come together and act as one rather than separate on such matters,” said freshman Jade Danise.
Also, it is important to note that not everyone will agree with Safe Zones and the ideas that are taught and promoted in Safe Zones. So how do we as college students handle this? Do we need to constantly retreat to Safe Zones and never leave when we hear differing opinions that don’t match our own? Or do we need to learn how to make it through society with-out these designated safe spaces?
“It is important to be open to discussion and respect each other’s opinions and see where and why we agree and why we disagree on such things and then decide to agree to disagree,” said Zac Clark, a sophomore history major. “Everyone is going to have different opinions so we need to learn how to exist with other opinions without feeling persecuted and looked down upon.”
Ultimately what would be ideal is if we didn’t need to have designated Safe Zones. Ideally, everywhere would be considered a safe zone. We need to learn to agree to disagree and not focus on just our feelings, but be able to make intelligent moves with our brains as well. If you don’t agree with certain beliefs and opinions, then that is fine. It is important to respect the views of others though, even if you wholeheartedly believe they are wrong. Who knows, they may be wrong, but that isn’t for us to decide.
While talking with students about the subject, almost 100% of them stated that they felt that UVU was a very inclu-sive and safe space. Yet UVU campus in an entirety is not considered a designated Safe Zone. So it is possible to be inclusive and respectful without the label of a Safe Zone.
“If you give anywhere or anyone a chance, they can be a Safe Zone and that is what we need to work towards as people,” said Jade Danise.
Stay safe and stay classy.