Module 1: Being a Safe Zone Ally
Definition: In relation to issues of oppression, an ally is defined as "a person who is a member of the 'dominant' or 'majority' group who works to end oppression in his or her personal and professional life through support of, and as an advocate with and for, the oppressed population." (www.hrc.org)
According to GLSEN’s 2001 National School Climate Survey, a majority of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students feel unsafe at school and are likely to skip class or even days of school out of fear for personal safety. The research also indicates that students who can identify a supportive faculty/staff member or student group are more likely to feel a sense of belonging at their schools than those who cannot. For many students, the presence of allies to whom they can turn for support—or even the simple knowledge that allies exist— can be a critical factor in developing a positive sense of self, building community, coping with bias, and working to improve school climate. Safe Zone programs therefore seek to increase the visible presence of student and adult allies who can help to shape a school culture that is accepting of all people regardless.
•68.6% of LGBT students (and 89.5% of transgender students!) felt unsafe in their school because of their sexual orientation or gender expression
•30.9% missed at least one entire day of school in the past month because they felt unsafe based on sexual orientation
•39.7% reported that there were no teachers or school personnel who were supportive of LGBT students at their school
Source: G.L.S.E.N. (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network)
The four "R"s of being a great ally:
• To reach out supportively to LGBTQIA individuals and other allies.
• To respond caringly when LGBTQIA individuals and their allies seek help.
• To react courageously to harassing/demeaning acts against LGBTQIA individuals and their allies.
• To reflect thoughtfully about the issues and what I can do, as an individual, to continue learning about LGBTQIA individuals.
How can you reach out and respond caringly to LGBTQIA individuals and other allies?
• Share why you're reaching out.
• Ask "what can I do to help?"
• Listen a lot more than you talk.
• Express sympathy, concern, support.
• Help identify resources:
oDean of Students Office (http://www.uni.edu/deanofstudents/)
oUNI Counseling Center(http://www.uni.edu/counseling/)
oResidence Life Coordinator
How can you react courageously to acts against LGBTQIA individuals or their allies?
• Take a deep breath.
• Respectfully express your concern(s).
• Identify what it is that concerns you.
• Don't argue
• Report bigger concerns to authorities:
o UNI Police: (http://www.vpaf.uni.edu/pubsaf/police_division/index.shtml)
o Bias Response Team: (www.uni.edu/deanofstudents/biasresponse)
o Office of Compliance and Equity Management:
o Dean of Students Office: (http://www.uni.edu/deanofstudents/)
Where can I find information to help me reflect thoughtfully about how I can be involved as an ally?
• Take this quiz!
• Connect with local LGBTQIA/ally groups and activities:
o One Iowa at UNI
o Trans*gena at UNI
o UNI LGBT Resources (www.uni.edu/deanofstudents/lgbt)
• Connect to other resources: