Sonoma State Safe Zone Home

Frequently Asked Questions:

What exactly is The Safe Zone Program?

The Safe Zone Program is designed to identify friendly and supportive students, staff, and faculty to provide support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex students. The identification helps to promote visibility on campus and create a greater presence of support and acceptance to students, staff, and faculty that are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgende or intersex.

Why was The Safe Zone Program created?

The Safe Zone Program was developed by staff, students, and faculty, concerned about creating a safe and supportive campus climate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and questioning students, staff, faculty and administrators. On campus, members of our community sometimes do not feel that they can be open about their sexual orientation. Previous Campus Climate reports for over a 10 year period have shown, homosexuality is consistently one of the least tolerated diversity categories. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers (Massachusetts Youth Risk Survey 2007). In a world where some still find it acceptable to harass, attack, and even kill lesbian, gay, transgender people, it is important to make signs of acceptance and safety visible and pervasive. This kind of visible support for lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, intersex and questioning members of our community will go a long way toward creating a positive climate for all of us at Sonoma State.

What does it mean when I see a Safe Zone sticker or button?

Seeing a Safe Zone sticker or button means that the person or office has completed one of our trainings and signed up to be supportive and friendly to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex issues and concerns. Allies will have information or resources available for students, staff, and faculty

What is an Ally?

Allies support and honor sexual and gender diversity. Allies explore and understand any forms of bias within themselves and society. Allies challenge the misinformation and mistreatment caused by heterosexism and homophobia and work to end oppression personally and professionally through support and advocacy.

Does wearing the button or displaying the sticker mean that the person is gay?

No. Wearing the Safe Zone button or displaying the Safe Zone sticker does not mean that a person is gay. An Ally may identify as straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, or may decide to not identify their sexuality, just to embrace it.

What does it mean if I see an office or person that does not have a button or sticker?

If a person does not have a sticker or button then it might mean they have not heard about the Safe Zone program or have had the opportunity to take the training and get a sticker or button. There is also the possibility that a person does not have a sticker or button because they are not a safe or supportive person. Not having a Safe Zone button or sticker does not make someone a bad person, it simply means that for their own reasons, they cannot openly display support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community.

Why does the image on the sticker or button include a pink triangle?

"The pink triangle was used by the Nazis In concentration camps to identify and shame homosexuals. This symbol, which has been used to label and shame, has been embraced by the gay community as a symbol of pride." Source

How can I become an Ally?

To become an Ally at SSU, you must attend a training. See the training link for more information. Once you complete the training and sign the Safe Zone pledge, you can display a Safe Zone button or sticker. Through voicing support and being a positive role model as a gay person or as an Ally, ignorance is eliminated and myths are no longer perpetuated. Every day, you have the opportunity to confront oppression and end ignorance in the classroom, in your dormitory, in the office, and with your friends.

What should an Ally do when confronted by a homophobic or heterosexist situation?

Whether you are gay or straight, homophobia hurts us all. Depending on the situation each Ally must decide if it is in his or her best interests to intervene. An Ally may decide to not intervene in a situation that might threaten his or her life, or perhaps the life of someone else.

It is acceptable to confront a person who tells a homophobic joke or remark by saying that the joke "isn’t funny," or that the remark "demeans people" and is "offensive." A professor may curb homophobic or heterosexist remarks by stating, "That kind of dialogue is not allowed in the classroom." If a person is spouting homophobic myths, you can question where they got their information, or simply correct their information. For example, if someone says "That's so gay," you can ask what they mean by that and initiate a conversation.

What if someone comes out to me?

The process of a person coming out is personal and public. There can be many factors that allow a person to withhold their sexual identity from other people, and it is a complicated issue. A person may be out to certain friends or co-workers, but they could be closeted to their family. Another person may be out to their family and friends, but not out on campus or in the classroom. So when a person comes out to an Ally, that information should remain confidential unless the person expressively states that it is acceptable to disclose that information to others.

Coming out to someone can be a difficult matter and one that may require time and understanding. When a person comes out to an Ally, it is a sign of trust, openness and confidence. The person may identify as straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning or any other term. An effective Ally understands that every person has their own individual sexual orientation and is living with that sexual orientation in their own way. An Ally is supportive of all sexual orientations and is willing to create a safe and supportive environment that is affirming for all sexual orientations.

What obligations, if any, do I have with people that come out to me?

Each Ally decides their own level of involvement or commitment with the people that come out to them. When a person comes out to an Ally, it is the Ally’s decision how to be involved with that person on a social, personal, or professional level.

An Ally may decide to meet regularly with someone who came out to them to find out how they are doing, and provide positive support or interaction. If a person contacts an Ally simply to find resources in the community that are available to lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender people, then the Ally should be informed about resources available. If someone contacts an Ally to talk about an issue in their life, then an Ally should be a listener, but a listener who does not allow heterosexism or homophobia to inhibit their ability to listen. If an Ally is an employee of the University, they are mandated to report incidents of discrimination or sexual assualt. See the link above for Campus Resources for Violence and Discrimination for more information.