In 2007 a series of homophobic events on the SDSU campus highlighted the need for a program that actively promoted a safe, LGBTQQIA-affirmative environment. A coalition was formed in response to these events that has grown into SafeZones@SDSU ally trainings, resource fairs, internships and a campus and community-based support network. SDSU now has a 5-Star LGBT-Friendly Campus Climate Index rating from Campus Pride.
SafeZones@SDSU works to ensure a campus atmosphere that is welcoming, informative, educational, and safe for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, and ally (LGBTQQIA) students, faculty, staff, administrators and members of the campus community.
A Brief History of SafeZones@SDSU
In the fall of 2007 several homophobic incidents occurred on the SDSU campus: verbal and physical harassment and assault, interference with LGBTQ students and their allies picketing in favor of same-sex marriage, and homophobic/inappropriate comments made in classrooms. Many felt a generally unsafe atmosphere. After an empowering Stop the Hate campus rally, an all-call was sent out to the campus community asking people to attend a meeting to address these issues. People representing diverse offices, services, student organizations and individual faculty and administrators gathered who were committed to creating a permanent program to make SDSU safe, welcoming and proactive for all LGBTQI students, faculty, staff, administrators and their allies. This was not the first effort of this sort on campus: there was a rich history of LGBTQ student organizations, diversity programming, a faculty/staff lesbian and gay group, LGBTQ course work (which evolved into the LGBT Major/Minor and a Graduate Certificate) and events and services aimed at addressing the issues and needs of the LGBTQ community.
What the new SafeZones@SDSU program provided was two-fold: an Ally Training Program (run by Counseling and Psychological Services) that schools individuals to become effective listeners able to offer referrals, support, and foster a proactive campus climate. The other branch of SafeZones offers LGBTQIA social justice programming that complements ongoing efforts across our campus.
SafeZones events include: National Coming Out Day, a bi-annual Resource Fair, an annual Lavender Graduation, film nights, discussion panels, continuing education events for trained allies, and much more. New constituencies were brought in: Public Safety, The College of Arts and Letters, the Faculty Senate Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Outreach, Student Health Services, Student Life and Leadership, and countless individual faculty and students.
To date SafeZones@SDSU has trained nearly 800 allies, brought to campus over 40 community-based LGBTQIA groups and their resources, and served as a model for other programs in California as well as nationally and internationally. We are part of a nationwide community of campuses that have instituted Safe Space and/or Safe Zones programs dating back to 1990. Given our student population, we believe we are one of the largest programs in the western United States.
SafeZones@SDSU is but one reason why SDSU has earned a 5-Star LGBTQ Friendly-Rating from a national ranking team.