Why have a Safe Zone program?
- Approximately 3.6 percent of the population in Ohio identifies as LGBT, this means that LGBT and questioning students are present on our college campus, many of whom are in various stages of identity development and are in need of support regardless of the school’s affiliation. Moreover, homosexuality is an identity that is often invisible. The Safe Zone program asserts a visual statement of support to our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) students.
- To see a partial list of other schools with an Ally & Safe Zone program visit the American College Student Personnel Association’s Standing Committee for LGBTQ Awareness.
Is Safe Zone appropriate at a Jesuit university?
- Yes. Students are educated at John Carroll University in the Jesuit tradition of cura personalis, the care of the whole person. Briefly stated, the mission of the University is “a commitment to a church within the world, serving the human search for truth and value, and for justice and solidarity.” John Carroll inspires individuals to excel in learning, leadership, and service in the region and in the world. To achieve this goal, the University creates an inclusive community where differing points of view and experience are valued as opportunities for mutual learning. Lastly, the University is committed to the intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and physical development of each student.
- Programs like Safe Zone help to increase awareness and support for the LGBTQ community on campus. Many Jesuit Universities have Safe Zone programs, including Georgetown University, Santa Clara University, University of San Francisco, Boston College, and Loyola University Chicago. The Safe Zone program at John Carroll University was developed with input and support from campus stakeholders.
What is an ally?
- In the most general sense, an “ally” is a person who is a member of the majority group who works to end oppression in their personal and professional life through support of, and as an advocate for, the oppressed population. Allies to racial, religious, and ethnic minorities have been remarkably effective in promoting positive change in the dominant culture, and only recently has their instrumental role been extended to the area of sexual orientation. The past few years have witnessed the development of heterosexual ally organizations which have attempted to make the culture of a campus or workplace more aware and accepting of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning/queer, and intersex individuals. (Adapted from Washington & Evans, Becoming an Ally)
What are the responsibilities of an ally?
- Allies commit to foster a campus environment where homophobia is not tolerated and heterosexism is challenged. They continue to educate themselves on how to be an ally for LGBTQ people.
What are the benefits?
- Safe Zone fosters the opportunity to interact and learn from one another in our diverse community. Allies make a difference on campus—even if they don’t see or hear it all the time. Allies live out the Jesuit mission by making a personal contribution to improving the environment of our campus and the lives of our students.
What can I expect?
- Students may be more at ease with you and they may censor themselves less in your office, resulting in a more genuine exchange. Students may not necessarily behave differently, but will feel more welcome and secure.
Why is this particular group being singled out?
- With the Safe Zone door decal, we hope to increase the visibility of their support. Allies have existed for a long time on campus…we’re just making this support loud and clear. Moreover, by directly addressing and attempting to reduce one type of bias, the campus is indirectly addressing and reducing other forms of bias at the University.
What should I do if a student comes out in my office?
- At other campuses with similar Safe Zone projects, this is not happening frequently. However, if it does happen, click here for some tips on what to do and what not to do.
Who can be a Safe Zone ally? What is the time commitment?
- Anyone at the University can be an ally. You must complete the two-hour Safe Zone training to be added to our Faculty & Staff Allies list. After the introductory training session, participation in other events on campus is voluntary.
Why should we have a sign showing support for only LGBTQ persons?
- The reality is not all people on campus are supportive, knowledgeable, and understanding of LGBTQ people. While the University’s Statement on Diversity recognizes our diverse and vibrant community, it is important for LGBTQ persons to be affirmed regardless of their social identity.
What does it mean if someone does not display the Safe Zone decal?
- Nothing. There are many reasons why someone might not display the decal. Some people don’t support the project. Some people do, but choose not to display the sticker. Please know: not displaying the decal is in no way an indication of an ally’s lack of support for the LGBTQ community or their commitment to creating a more just and inclusive campus community.
What about the people on campus who don’t become Safe Zone members?
- The intention is not to make those who do not participate in the Safe Zone program look bad, it is to show support and affirmation of a more inclusive campus community. Participation in the Safe Zone program is voluntary and no one will be pressured to get trained. There may be a variety of reasons why some people who are allies cannot attend the training.
What if I just want to show support, I don’t have time to provide ongoing counseling?
- Allies are not expected to be “experts” or counselors. We have a wonderful and talented University Counseling Center staff that does this professionally. One of the reasons we have Safe Zone is to provide common ground knowledge about how and where to refer someone.
What does the Safe Zone decal design mean?
- The decal was designed to address two important symbols within the LGBTQ and University community. The design is a pin shape often seen in maps to indicate a specific location or zone. The background of the bubble contains a six-color rainbow. In 1978, Gilbert Baker of San Francisco designed and made a flag with six stripes representing the six colors of the rainbow as a symbol of gay and lesbian community pride. While this flag began in San Francisco, today it can be seen all over the world as a sign of pride and community.
- At the top of the pin is the University’s brandmark logo: a Latin bottony cross. In Christian tradition the three clover-leafed end caps represent the Trinity and the teachings of 1 Corinthians 13: “Faith, Hope, Love; the greatest of these is Love.” Also, since there are four arms of the bottony cross- each with three buds- the cross is also known as the Apostles’ Cross, with each bud representing one of the twelve original Christian apostles. The cross symbolizes Jesuit traditions in the purest form. (John Carroll University Graphic Standards and Editorial Stylebook)
Can I personalize or alter the Safe Zone decal?
- Yes. Once you receive the decal it is yours to keep forever. You can personalize a decal to match your discipline, research, hobby, or style.