LGBTQ Center to offer Safe Zone training

October 17, 2012  


LGBTQ Safe Zone

Lowell Kane, director of Purdue's Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Center, created the center's Safe Zone program. The program will offer its first workshop Oct. 27. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons)
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Members of the Purdue community soon will have the opportunity to attend workshops that will explore the unique needs and concerns of those on campus who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer.

The three-hour workshops are part of the Safe Zone program housed within Purdue's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Center. They are the creation of Lowell Kane, the center's director.

Before starting that position in July, Kane was director of Texas A&M University's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center, which he created and which also employs a Safe Zone program.

"Safe Zone training has existed in higher education since the early 1990s," Kane says. "For Purdue, it represents a fantastic way to make campus a more inclusive and affirming environment for all faculty, staff and students who are members of the LGBTQ community."

The workshops will consist of three components -- a presentation of LGBTQ history, an explanation of the community's terminology and symbology, and a discussion about how media portrayals of the gay community might impact LGBTQ individuals' worldviews.

For example, during this presentation, Kane will share stories about the history of the pink triangle symbol. The gay community reclaimed it following World War II, when the Nazis used it to identify men imprisoned in concentration camps for their homosexuality.

The workshops also will include discussions with LGBTQ student panelists, followed by a focus on actions participants can take to make campus a more inclusive and affirming place for everyone.

So far, workshops are scheduled for Oct. 27, Nov. 10 and Nov. 27. They are open to all and registration is required; each workshop is capped at 25 participants.

To register for an upcoming workshop, go to www.purdue.edu/lgbtq/safezone/attend. Those interested in attending must register two or more days before their preferred workshop date.

Kane, who will be leading the workshops, says he plans to hold them a couple of times each month for a general campus audience and by request for colleges and departments. He stresses, however, that attending these workshops always will be optional.

The content of each workshop will change, Kane says, as dictated by the campus' needs. Therefore, he recommends participants retake workshops periodically to stay up-to-date on the most current issues facing campus.

At the end of each workshop, participants will be given the option to express their commitment to creating an affirming and inclusive campus by signing a contract stating this. Those who have signed the contract will become Safe Zone members and will receive a three-inch-by-five-inch cardstock placard with the program's logo.

The idea, Kane says, is to encourage program members to display the placard in prominent locations to indicate that their office, classroom or other space is a safe, supportive place for members of the LGBTQ community.

"The fact that there is an LGBTQ resource center on campus -- and the fact that we're starting a Safe Zone program -- makes us very elite in higher education, because fewer than 7 percent of American colleges and universities even have such a center," Kane says.

"Our center and the Safe Zone program really put Purdue in the position to be a change maker in higher education. We can lead the way, and that is our goal."

Writer: Amanda Hamon, 49-61325, ahamon@purdue.edu

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