Safe Zone training supports LGBTQI community


safe zone logo

Jan. 12, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University's Jan. 14 Safe Zone training will give faculty, staff and select students an opportunity to become an ally for those with an alternative sexual orientation or gender identity.

A workshop, open to 30 people, will be offered from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in 321 Smith Student Center. Catherine Massey, professor of psychology, Bonnie Siple, professor of exercise and rehabilitative sciences, and Jodi Solito, director of The Women Center and Pride Center, will present.

Safe Zone provides training for those seeking to support Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning/Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) students and peers. The idea is to provide a "safe" place to go for help, advice or just to talk to someone about sexual orientation or gender.

Siple said the workshop would offer information about the LGBTQI community, including terms, definition and struggles. Presenters will provide tips for becoming an ally and offering referrals for professional help.

Massey said clarification will be offered regarding intersex, which involves someone who may have male reproductive organs but have female sex characteristics, or vice versa. They may fall outside the XX or XY chromosomal makeup and have XXY, XO or X, she said.

"There are many, many intersex conditions," she said. "About one in 2,000 children born are intersex, and some do not even know it until later in life when they want to conceive a child," Massey said. "There is much controversy over surgeries that were - are - performed on children born intersex to make them male or female."

She said there are two lawsuits going on where physicians conducted surgery without parental permission.

"It is an important subject, and that is why it is covered in Safe Zone and why we have a Safe Zone booster on intersex because it is complicated," she said.

SRU has a number of initiatives that support the LGBTQI community. These include the Pride Center, located on the second floor of the Smith Student Center, which offers resources and a place to relax; the President's Commission for Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation, whose purpose is to monitor the campus climate for the entire LGBTQI community and make recommendation to the president that would improve the campus climate; and RockOUT, a student organization whose purpose is to educate the campus and the community about LGBTQI issues, and to advocate and support LGBTQI students. The University has designated February as Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation month at SRU.

Upon completion of the Safe Zone training, participants will receive a Safe Zone placard for placement on an office window, door or student backpack. The symbol provides a visible indication that the bearer is LGBTQI-friendly.

To register for the Safe Zone training, call the Office of Human Resources at 724.738.2070. Registrations will be accepted on a first-come basis.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine | 724.738.4854 |