This past Sunday, November 24, 2013, I attended the Safe Zone Ally Training 1 and 2. It was an all day event and had a lot of information presented. Overall, it was quite productive. According to the WOU website, Safe Zone’s vision is “to provide continuing education to the community about LGBTQQIAA inclusiveness on and off campus.” The acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Ally, and Asexual identities. The terminology was, by far, the most interesting aspect of the two trainings.
Terminology was a large part of Ally One Training. It was extremely fascinating to learn the different meanings of these words; it showed me growth of western society because new words have been created for people to identify themselves with. It’s important to have an identity, and there are now words and understanding of such identities. It was quite rewarding. Other aspects of Ally One Training were activities and games that not only educated us but also allowed us to explore our own thoughts and expressions. We were able to share information about our assumptions and/or stereotypes of people, and together we talked about it and educated each other. There was even one activity that some of us experienced the loss of a loved one due to “coming out.” That was heartbreaking and quite motivating to see.
Ally Two Training was quite different from Ally One Training. We worked out of a booklet that was geared toward personal reflection on how we see the LGBTQ community. As a group, we talked about how our society depicts the community and how we, as allies, can change the stereotypical attitude toward the LGBTQ community. The reflective piece was amazing, but this second portion seemed more like a class than a workshop. Don’t get me wrong, it was great! It just seemed like I was in class on a Sunday, which is not great.
After everything was over, we were all given certificates. We were deemed honorary allies for anyone in the LGBTQ community. Honestly, that night, when I got home, I put the sticker on my computer. I now have WOU Safe Zone Ally on the top of my computer so when it’s open, people can see it. I’m honored to have gone through training. In fact, I plan on taking the “Train the Trainer Training,” where I would be trained to be a trainer. I feel that I would be a good trainer. I feel the more involved I get, the more aware I will be. And, in turn, the more I can help educate others to be more aware too.
There has been too much pain and hate toward the LGBTQ community and it needs to stop. If I can work on becoming part of the solution, I will. Taking the Ally Training 1 and 2 was, overall, quite enjoyable and full of information. If anyone is interested in supporting the LGBTQ community, Safe Zone’s Ally Training is a perfect place to start.
By Jo Bruno