June 27, 2013
by Elizabeth Chapin
The LGBTQ resource area at San Diego State
Despite the fact that universities strive to educate about difference, promote equality and raise awareness about acts of intolerance and violence, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) college students still face unique challenges and discrimination.
Like universities across the country, CSUs provide a wide array of resources and services for LGBT students. The support and programming they offer helps to create a safer and more inclusive learning environment.
One of these, called a Safe Zone or Ally program, brings the entire campus together as Allies for the LGBT community. Nearly every CSU campus has implemented an Ally program.
Allies are members of the campus community that participate in an optional training workshop in which they learn about LGBT topics and terminology, receive resources and referral info, interact with a panel of LGBT students, and discuss how to be an Ally.
After a student or employee completes the training, they get a button or sticker to display outside their office or residence hall room or a button to display on their backpacks. It’s more than just a sign of support.
“It immediately identifies them as an ally to the LGBT community, and students know that they have someone there who is willing to offer support, listen to their concerns, or help them access campus resources,” said CSU Northridge Pride Center Coordinator Sarina Loeb.
CSU Dominguez Hills Associate Director of Student Services Lui Amador says that the buttons and stickers around campus also serve as a constant reminder that it is a safe, supportive, and inclusive community for all students.
Amador directs CSUDH’s Safe Zone program, which he says was implemented partially in response to the tragic event when a Rutgers University student committed suicide in 2010.
“We were shocked and saddened by the incident and just wanted to know what we could do to make sure something like this wouldn’t happen here,” Amador said.
So far there’s been a significant response. Campuses that have implemented the program now have hundreds of Allies.
Loeb, who directs CSUN’s Ally program, says that more than 700 people went through their training this past year alone, and Amador says the CSUDH program now holds two training sessions per semester.
“I know it’s been beneficial for them, and everyone on campus,” he said.
Find out more about CSU Safe Zone and Ally programs: