Safe Zone/Ally Workshop Offers Insight on LGBT Issues

October was LGBT History Month, a national observance paying tribute to the historical rights movements of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community. As part of the commemoration, San Jacinto College South Campus offered a Safe Zone/Ally Training workshop Oct. 18 aimed at educating participants on LGBT issues like gender identity and sexuality.

Amanda Rose, the coordinator of Student Engagement and Activities on the Central Campus and Erin Lewis, her counterpart on the North Campus, facilitated the event that was offered at different times and locations across the San Jac district.

“We started this program three years ago in October of 2013,” Lewis said, “and started doing them on all three campuses at North, Central, and South.”

During the workshop, students shared their personal stories and were encouraged to ask questions about the LGBT community without judgment from others in, as the name implies, a “Safe Zone.” Furthermore, they received a vocabulary lesson of words related to gender and sexuality specific to the LGBT community.

Lewis said she and Rose found the terms eye-opening when they first reviewed the material at the program’s start three years ago.

“When we went through it, we did not know all of these definitions,” Lewis said. “… definitions are always changing. They are always added. It is good to know something but always knowing there is more you can know.”

Later, students wrote down how they would react if one their friends revealed they were gay, and their early impressions when they first became acquainted with LGBT individuals.

As a finale, Rose unveiled the “Genderbread Person” sheet, an evaluation test that reveals inner feelings. Participants noted what sex they identified as mentally, what sex they are sexually or romantically attracted to, and what sex they identified themselves as physically.

Safe Zone/Ally Training is open to any interested member of the San Jac community, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“People, whether it be faculty, staff, or students who attend these workshops, they don’t have to be gay, “Lewis said.

“They just want to be able to have more knowledge about the definition, or knowing what it is to be in the LGBT community.”