On June 27th, UGA’s LGBTRC held a Safe Space training for faculty, staff, and students interested in learning about gender and sexual identity, homophobia, heterosexism and how to provide support and work towards being an ally for the LGBT community.
This program is important because students, faculty and staff of the University of Georgia need to have a dialogue about LGBT+ students to create accepting spaces on campus. STudents should be encouraged to attend one of these seminars or one similar to it.
“Our mission is to be inclusive of all students, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. We tend to act that out especially through education and support. And so that’s a large portion of what our Safe Space Training is meant to do,” said Fowler, an administrative assistant for the LGBTRC and facilitator for safe space training.
To begin to understand the experiences of queer students, it is essential to understand the language used. For example, while most people outside of the queer community know “binders” as folders to hold papers, whereas transgender, gender non-conforming and nonbinary people know binders as pieces of fabric meant to compress breasts to give the appearance of a flat chest.
A thorough conversation about queer identity requires everyone to be on the same page regarding terminology and definitions. That is why it is essential for those interested in learning more about the queer community to attend educational events like Safe Space training to learn the vocabulary.
Those in the queer community didn’t enter understanding all the vocabulary and definitions. It requires research, time and studying to understand the culture of a community. If someone outside the community wants to understand, they need to study and do research as well.
This study and research can come in the form of conversation. “Safe Space training is meant as a conversation, as a dialogue, for people to have… it’s meant to be able to provide people with the space to have those conversations that we’re not always able to have,” said Fowler.
There are infinitely many ways to find information; as long as the person searching listens with intention and compassion to the experiences of others, any way to learn is the correct way. But this dialogue must be had, and this learning must be completed, in order to further progress towards acceptance on the UGA campus.
While it may take some effort, it is worth it to have a more inclusive and safer environment for the entire UGA population.
Additional Safe Space trainings will be held July 12th, 26th, and throughout the fall and spring semesters. To sign up or receive additional information,visit the LGBT Resource Center website.