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San Diego State University

SafeZones Program Partners



SafeZones Transnational Alliance


In 2011during SDSU’s Alternative Spring Break Study Abroad South Africa Program participants met with LGBTQIA activists and scholars from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits University) and Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA) in Johannesburg, South Africa to learn about the LGBTQIA rights movement in their country.  During this meeting we also shared strategies and programs with our South African colleagues for creating safe spaces for LGBTQIA people in our respective institutions.


As a result of this collaboration, in 2012 under the leadership of the Transformation and Employment Equity Office at Wits University a Safe Zones@Wits program was created that was partially modeled after SDSU’s SafeZones@SDSU program.  In turn, we at SDSU have been inspired by the events, programs, and resources offered by SafeZones@Wits since its inception.


In the coming months and years we hope to continue our collaboration with our sister program in South Africa in the form of an annual virtual conference.


View the 2014 Skype Conference Program (.pdf)


Read the SDSU NewsCenter story about the April Transnational Skype Conference 


For more information on our South African partner program please see SafeZones@Wits: .


Most Safe Zones programs currently in existence are located in the U.S., Canada, and Australia but it is the hope of SafeZones@SDSU and our South African counterparts to see the program spread to other countries.  To that end, we have been working on a guide to creating Safe Zones programs as well as a mapping project that identifies safe places in areas of the world that do not explicitly have Safe Zones programs.


Further international exchange programs in which SafeZones@SDSU has taken a leadership role include meetings with delegations from the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor’s Leadership Program (IVLP).   Beginning in April of 2013 LGBT leaders from several countries, including Colombia and Latvia, visited with leaders representing SDSU’s key programs such as SafeZones@SDSU, the LGBT Studies Program, the LGBTQ Research Consortium, the Queer Student Union, and the Pride Center.


During the most recent of these IVLP programs held in July of 2014, visitors from Azerbaijan, India, Israel, Mexico, Nigeria, Romania, Singapore, Turkey, Vietnam, Uganda, and Zimbabwe spent a day at SDSU interacting with students, staff, faculty, and administrators who play a role in LGBTQIA organizations and programs on campus. 


SafeZones Coordinator of International Programs, Dr. Mary Kelly, and visiting South African intern, Mr. Anzio Jacobs, conducted an afternoon synthesis session where we were asked by the IVLP organizers to assist our international colleagues in reflecting on their three weeks of learning experiences in the various parts of the U.S. they visited and to draft a plan for building human rights initiatives and safe places for the SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) community in their respective countries.  We at SDSU have found that such collaborations are as valuable for us as they are for many of our international colleagues.


For more information on establishing transnational alliances please contact Dr. Mary Kelly (