Friday, September 20, 2019

UIS rebrands LGBTQIA+ training program to encourage and expand inclusion

The University of Illinois Springfield Office of Gender and Sexuality Student Services has rebranded its LGBTQIA+ training program for supportive students, faculty and staff allies on campus in an effort to encourage them to take even more actionable steps towards inclusion.

Since 2001, UIS has offered Safe Zone training in several formats. However, this semester the training has been rebranded as Brave Space training in an effort to encourage difficult conversations that affirm LGBTQIA+ people with the additional expectation that participants will assess themselves, their departments and student groups for inclusive practices and policies.

“For the past 25 years, Safe Zone-type programs on college campuses have always been about supportive allies hanging a sign to show they were safe to come out to as a sexual or gender minority, while encouraging conversation with others that have questions about LGBTQIA+ people,” said Kerry Poynter, director of the UIS Office of Gender and Sexuality Student Services. “The name change reflects the UIS Safe Zone Committee’s desire for members to take brave steps to engage in difficult conversations that affirm LGBTQIA+ people.”

Participants who previously completed Safe Zone training will be asked to go through a recertification process to achieve Brave Space status. Individuals who complete the training will be given a new Brave Space sign to hang in the office or campus living space letting others know they are supportive of LGBTQIA+ people and issues.

“We think the name change and our recertification process to achieve the new sign will communicate that a supportive ally does more than just a hang a sign and support students that are coming out, but will take actionable steps for inclusion as well as advocacy,” said Poynter.

During the Brave Space training process, participants sign up for sessions where they go through National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI) bias and prejudice training and learn about the history of LGBTQIA+ people and issues. Participants can also take classes to learn more about safe dating, pansexuality and bisexuality, religion and transgender.

Participants will receive extensive examples of actionable items and tips on how to be more inclusive in their departments and/or student organizations and daily life. A confidential dialogue will be facilitated that allows members to share their own experiences and attempts to advocate and/or intervene as allies to gender and sexual minorities. Small group dialogues will give opportunity to create and share examples of how they intend to be inclusive. Each participant will receive and sign a pledge check list that are based on content from the advanced sessions.

The UIS Office of Gender and Sexuality Student Services provides education, advocacy, support, mentoring and a safe space for sexual and gender minority students at UIS including but not limited to lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, transgender, genderqueer, queer, questioning, intersex and asexuals (LGBTQIA+). They also work with heterosexual and cisgender students to become more informed and supportive allies in an effort to create a more inclusive and affirming campus climate.

For more information on Brave Space training, contact Kerry Poynter at 217-206-8316 or kpoyn2@uis.edu or visit go.uis.edu/safezone.