Safe Space training supports LGBTQ community

Students, faculty and staff are invited to learn about the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer community through a two-hour “Safe Space” training.
Sponsored by Multicultural and International Student Affairs, the training will take place from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. on Sept. 18, in the Student Union, room 223. Participants will receive a rainbow-colored Safe Space sticker which may be posted on their doors as a sign of welcome and support to LGBTQ students. While attendance is free, signing up beforehand is a preferred courtesy.
Dr. Eric Johnson, director of Sims Memorial Library, has served a critical role in bringing the training to the university.
“Aside from providing the Safe Space for LGBTQ students to discuss their issues with people sympathetic to their needs, it has also brought attention to the number of LGBTQ students on campus,” said Johnson. “It has also demonstrated the support of a good percentage of the university community, and possibly helped recruiting by showing that we are a campus that supports LGBTQ students in a number of ways, including an official student organization.”  
While interest in starting a Safe Space program at Southeastern began in 2004, Hurricane Katrina slowed the efforts. In 2011, the newly formed StandOUT group of LGBTQ students renewed interest in the project. Dr. Barbara Hebert, director of the Counseling Center, and Johnson contacted Louisiana State University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs about setting up Safe Space training for Southeastern’s faculty and staff.
According to Johnson, an estimated 70 members of the faculty and staff have already been through the training and have Safe Space stickers displayed on their office doors.
“The training is helpful in that it addresses the special needs of these students and the issues they face in today’s society,” said Johnson. “I feel it’s a win-win situation for everyone.”
A graduate student from LSU’s multicultural department will be giving the official training. While originally planned as an in-service for Resident Assistants, everyone is welcome. Trainings will be offered once every fall and spring semester.
“If participants choose to, they can display the ‘Safe Space’ sticker on their door as a message to the LGBTQ community for any of the students who might be having problems and just need someone to talk to,” said Brendan Daigle, coordinator of MISA. “They could find someone with that sticker and just come in and talk, and then we could refer them to resources like the Counseling Center or wherever they need to go. The goal is to help improve the atmosphere and environment on campus.”
Many universities across the nation have already implemented the Safe Space training program.
“It’s as important to have it nationwide as it is for us to have it here on campus, so that it is a more accepting environment and makes things more comfortable, open and friendly for people,” said Daigle.
A full list of names, departments and office locations for faculty and staff involved in the program can be found through Southeastern’s home page under the Safe Space Program as well as additional resources and information.
To sign up for the upcoming training, stop by the MISA office or contact by phone at 985-549-3850 or email at [email protected]