Husky Safe Zone Training helps educate community about LGBT issues

The University of Connecticut Rainbow Center offers Husky Safe Zone Training sessions to increase informed empathy of LGBT situations. (File photo/ The Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut Rainbow Center offers Husky Safe Zone Training sessions to increase informed empathy of LGBT situations and go over major concepts like preferred pronouns, identity components and Rainbow Center resources.

Julia Anderson, a graduate assistant at the Rainbow Center who presents at the sessions, said the goal is to teach LGBT literacy while maintaining a focus on educating the community.

“The overall mission of the Husky Ally Safe Zone Training is to create a community where folks are acting in ally ship with the LGBT community,” Anderson said.

The training is open to students, faculty, staff and anyone associated with UConn on-or off-campus, according to Anderson.

“This is a very open program,” Anderson said. “Anyone who wants to sign up for it can by going online and signing up through our website. We list one date per month always, and so those are already posted.”

Anderson said the program has different goals than other national Safe Zone Training programs as it places emphasis on informed empathy rather than more traditional LGBT literacy.

“Our specific program focuses on informed empathy,” Anderson said. “When someone comes up to them and says ‘I’m a member of the community,’ they respect that person, they are able to interact with that person appropriately and they are going to treat them with respect and dignity within that identity.”

There is also a focus on what allies can do to help the community if they encounter prejudice, Anderson said. The training sessions look in-depth at bystander prevention.

“We seek to create a community committed to affirming and advocating for the LGBT community,” Anderson said. “It’s not necessarily only interacting with people that approach you and identify themselves as a member of the community, but if you see someone that’s doing something homophobic, transphobic, biphobic, etc, that you intervene.”

Anderson said another benefit of the program is its capacity to connect students to Rainbow Center resources. Many universities who participate in Safe Zone training do not have the same sort of LGBT center available for individuals on campus, Anderson added.

“Because we have the Rainbow Center, we would like people to continue to refer students to the Rainbow Center so that we can serve as a resource to them,” Anderson said. “We use this program as a moment to plug our resources as well.”

There is also training offered for specialized groups like student organizations or offices like the Center for Career Development, Anderson said. The content of the presentations is carefully curated for each of the full sessions, Anderson added.

“We feel confident that this is information that people will really benefit from having, and while it seems like a serious time commitment, you also get a lot out of it and if you believe in advocating for students in the LGBT community, this is definitely worthwhile,” Anderson said.

For student organizations who contact the Rainbow Center directly, there are also other programs for student organizations who want some form of training but might not have the time to devote to the Husky Safe Zone Training Program, Anderson said.

“We don’t do Safe Zone trainings for less than the two and a half hours because we believe this information is really important to have,” Anderson said.  “We currently give stickers to those people who participate and complete the program so that people can hang them in their offices if they’re in an office so that people can identify who has been trained and whether or not that person may be capable of understanding what they’re disclosing to them.”


EllieAnn Lesko is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can reached via email at ellieann.lesko@uconn.edu.