Safe Zone

The University of Texas at Tyler

Role of a Safe Zone Advocate or Ally


• Visibility is an important part of being a person trained in Safe Zone. Advocates 
and allies are expected to display the Safe Zone logo.

 

As a person trained in Safe Zone, you are expected to:


o Provide a welcoming, nonjudgmental environment for students, faculty, and staff.


o Respect others' experiences and views.


o Be an active listener.


o Be discreet and respect privacy.


o Use inclusive, non-gender-specific language that does not reflect assumptions 
about the gender identity or sexual orientation of others.


o Learn about resources for LGBTQIAGNC (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, 
intersex, asexual, gender-non-conforming) people in the 
surrounding community so that you can provide appropriate referrals.


o Know your own biases and fears. Know what you are comfortable talking about, 
and be prepared to refer individuals to others when necessary.


o Know your limits. Know when it is necessary to refer individuals to an expert 
who can assist them better.


o Provide honest feedback at the close of training to improve the program.


o Participate in periodic assessments of the effectiveness and impact of Safe Zone.


o Attend additional Safe Zone workshops and meetings to practice your skills and receive 
further education about LGBTQIAGNC issues and concerns.

 

Building Skills as an Ally and/or  Advocate:


• A Safe Zone ally and/or advocate is someone who offers support to LGBTQIAGNC 
individuals or communities. As a Safe Zone advocate, you are expected to gain:


o Awareness: Familiarize yourself with the experience of people who identify as 
LGBTQIAGNC through reading articles and books and attending workshops, and 
build awareness through self-examination.


o Knowledge and Education: Learn about policies, laws, and practices affecting 
LGBTQIAGNC people. Educate yourself about the many communities and 
cultures within the LGBTQIAGNC community.


o Skills: Learn to apply your awareness and knowledge when interacting with 
others. You can acquire skills by attending workshops, role-playing with friends 
or peers, and developing support connections.


o Action: Taking action is an important way to effect change in society as a whole.
Important Points to Keep in Mind


o Remember that gender identity and sexual orientation are only part of a person's 
identity: Individuals must also deal with other aspects of their identity, such as 
socioeconomic status, religion or faith, race, ethnicity. An understanding of 
intersectionality is critical for effective social justice work.


o Be aware: Any person you talk to could be straight, gay or lesbian, bisexual, 
questioning, queer, trans, intersex, asexual, and/or gender nonconforming.


o Avoid gendered language: Using terms such as boyfriend and girlfriend; use partner or spouse instead.


o Recognize: Coming out is a process and not a one-time event. The process of 
coming out is unique to each member of the LGBTQIAGNC community and poses 
challenges that may not be widely understood.


o Understand: We live in a society lacking in awareness of issues of gender 
identity and sexual orientation. As a result, both straight and LGBTQIAGNC 
people suffer from internalized biphobia, transphobia, homophobia, and 
heterosexism.


o Remember: LGBTQIAGNC people are diverse; each community within the 
LGBTQIAGNC community and each individual within each community has unique 
needs and goals.

 

What can I do?


o If you work in an office or belong to an organization, review its publications. 
Suggest changes to remove noninclusive language.


o Avoid making homophobic, biphobic, transphobic, and heterosexist remarks, 
jokes, and statements. Consider speaking with others making such remarks or 
jokes to raise their awareness.


o Create an atmosphere of acceptance in your environment through education. 
Share your experiences with others.


o Join with LGBTQIAGNC people to protect their civil rights and constitutional 
freedoms.


o Report all instances of harassment or discriminatory behavior to the appropriate 
school officials.


o Display materials supporting the LGBTQIAGNC community (flyers for activities, 
posters, cards, a Safe Zone sign, SZ e-mail signature logo, etc.).


o Seek out accurate information and stay up-to-date about issues affecting 
the LGBTQIAGNC community.

 

How To Be An Effective Ally


•Interrupt offensive jokes.
•Learn from someone who is different from you.
•Speak up for those voices not present.
•Educate yourself and others
•Attend a rally.
•Research the issues and candidates before you vote in an election
•Read up on social justice issues.
•Read books/articles on people different than yourself.
•Reflect on your own experiences and how you might be a better ally in the future.
•Interact and find support from other allies.
•Vote for change.
•Don't assume to completely know someone else's experience.
•Try to empathize not sympathize.
•Don't judge others.
•Keep an open mind.
•Don't assume you know another's experience until you walk in their shoes, and even then, try to show 
empathy.
•Attend a protest or march for something you believe in.
•Understand your own privileges.
•Acknowledge the power bestowed upon you based on your social group membership.
•Don't deny your privileges.
•Utilize your power to bring about social change that benefits all people, especially those 
underprivileged.
•Vote for candidates who promote social justice issues.
•Help others understand their own privileges.
•Don't show pity for others.
•Work together and support other allies.
•Join with other agents to further understand their collective power and privilege, while working 
together to bring about individual and social change.
•Seek to understand all the different forms of oppression.
•Let your actions speak louder than your words.
•Notice the numerous intersections between different forms of oppression.
•Highlight the commonalties between the various targeted groups.
•Believe that there are always possibilities for alliance building.
•Keep the faith and hope alive.
•Don't buy into stereotypes.
•Respond with acts of kindness.
•Don't expect external rewards for your work as an ally - feel good and be proud about the work you 
do.
•Do it because it's the right thing to do.
•Walk your talk.
•Know there are different ways of doing and seeing everything.
•Be comfortable with criticism and feedback.
•Try to acknowledge your own prejudices and baggage.
•Challenge the norm.
•Use examples that don't exclude a particular group's experience.
•Don't get stuck feeling guilty for the oppression of the past.
•Take ownership in your own conscious and/or unconscious participation in oppression.
•Accept that others may stereotype you.
•Demonstrate your ally role through your actions rather than trying to convince others of it through 
your words.
•Believe that everything is a never-ending process.
•Let your voice be heard.
•Never speak for an entire group's experience or try to represent an entire group.
•Don't expect someone else to represent an entire social group.
•Remember to speak only from your own experience.
•Support people in the manner they want to be supported.
•Don't assume to know what support they want and what's best for them.
•Recognize that no one form of oppression is more significant than another - there is no hierarchy of 
oppressions.
•Be inclusive.
•Accept that none of us are experts in diversity.
•Provide support and assistance to those in need when requested, don't assume neediness.
•Know that your work is never done.
•Go out on a limb.
•Know that the past is not your fault, but the present and future are your responsibility