Aug 08, 2020

New Training Program aims to make safe environment for the LGBT community

The LGBT+ Allies Network initiated the new Safe Zone Training Program as a way to promote a safe and welcoming environment for LGBT+ students at Fresno State.

The purpose of the network is to make sure that LGBT students are offered what they need while on campus, said John Beynon, the LGBT+ Allies president.

At meetings, members discuss issues they believe the campus needs to address concerning lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. Safe Zone was thought up as a way of educating faculty and staff on how to handle LGBT students.

Safe Zone are people or spaces that are safe and welcoming to members of the LGBT community, Beynon said. Such areas are indicated by a sticker or certificate which identify people or places which have completed the Safe Zone Training Program.

The Safe Zone program workshops are held three times a semester. This semester there are two upcoming training sessions on Thursday, Oct. 22, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Henry Madden Library Room 2206 and Friday, Nov. 13 from noon to 2 p.m. in the library Room 3212.

“In our meetings, we discuss a variety of issues, more so those that pertain to our students on campus,” Beynon said. “We are concerned with how the faculty and staff relate to LGBT students.”

Beynon also explained the relationship that the LGBT organization and the United Student Pride have.  He said the LGBT+ Allies Network is a faculty and staff group, different from United Student Pride, which is purely for students.

Beynon said there is outreach and coordination between the two organizations.

“We reach out to student groups and ask them how we can support them,” he said. “They also come to our organization seeking help.”

The outreach is not just for students but for community members as well.

“We are currently organizing community outreaches where we plan to enlighten the community so that they may appreciate the existence of LGBT+ Allies Networks and count them of importance in the society,” said Jessica Adams, a group member.

Leslie Weiser, the chairwoman of the Student Health and Counseling Center, worked as a liaison for the two organizations for more than seven years, and, as a result, she was invited to attend their club meeting once a year.

“When I visited, I sometimes facilitated a discussion session and made efforts to connect with students so as to know me and the department of Student Health and Counseling Center as a comfortable place,” Weiser explained.

Besides helping students deal with depression, anxiety and stress management, women’s issues, cultural issues and spiritual concerns, she also helps students deal with LGBT allies issues.

“I help students by talking with them about their experiences and present concerns, by providing support as needed, and by helping them to find solutions to problems that are affecting their lives,” said Weiser. “My goal is always to help them to be their best and to reach their fullest potential academically and in their personal lives.”

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