Safe Zone, a program hosted by the HUB, will be putting on an event meant to educate members of Sonoma State University about the LGBTQ+ community and the obstacles they must over come daily. The event will be held on Feb. 27 in the Alexander Valley room of the Student Center from 1 - 4 p.m.
“Safe Zone is a campus program for staff, students and faculty to learn more about queer communities and how to be supportive of them,” HUB Gender and Sexuality Program Coordinator Jordan Grapentine said.
“We go through a series of activities to help them get familiarized with different identities in the queer community, to talk about the different issues and barriers that queer students in particular face on and off campus and specific ways we can show our support whether we are inside the community or outside.” Grapentine said.
The program is broken down into two levels. The first level is essentially “LGBTQ+ 101” and focuses on foundational knowledge regarding LGBTQ+ identities, including terminology, active listening, supporting the community and understanding and responding to the microaggressions that queer people face.
The second level dives a bit deeper than the first, covering trans and nonbinary identities as well as the intersection of different identities.
Safe Zone isn’t a new event, however its design is totally new. Tweaks have been made to level one and level two is making its first appearance in the program.
“Level two did not exist before so that’s new, but both levels are completely revamped,” said Grapentine.
Many students are glad Sonoma State has programs aimed to teach about the LGBTQ+ community.
“I think it’s important to have an open dialogue about this kind of stuff,” Sophomore Kelsey Venuti said.
“I didn’t know this was happening but I’m glad there’s something on campus like this.”
“It’s important to teach people to be open minded, especially for freshman that might be moving into a more diverse area than they’re used to,” Alpha Xi Delta member Celine VanZwol said.
While this program can certainly help improve the understanding of the LGBTQ+ community, it isn’t an end all be all to comprehension of inclusivity and insight.
Things like sexuality are constantly evolving so it’s hard to say that one program can teach you everything there is to know on the subject.
“It’s not like you go through safe zone and you get a stamp of approval.” Grapentine said. “It’s just one step in a journey to be more inclusive and be more aware of queer identities and the issues we face in our community,”
Safe Zone will be a reoccurring event, offered twice a month for the rest of the semester. If interested in attending but can’t make any of the times offered, fear not. The people in the HUB are willing to work around studnets’ schedules.
“If none of the times work or folks are saying a group of people want to do this, we can find time to coordinate that in our schedules,” said Grapentine.
Ultimately, Safe Zone is a program in which our school’s community, staff and students alike can feel comfortable learning about different genders and sexualities.
“It’s a really great learning opportunity and a space where folks can come in and ask their questions that they may not know how to ask or what to say,” Grapentine said. “It’s really meant to be collaborative and engaging.”