Counseling and Testing Center expands Safe Zone training

Shantel-Ann Pettway

WKU’s Counseling and Testing Center began offering Safe Zone training this academic year in early October. 

The training is for community members in hopes of decreasing homophobia and heterosexism within the WKU community.

The center has gotten a lot of response for its Safe Zone training. Therefore, it has added an extra date for the training in addition to two previous dates. The extra training session will occur on Nov. 11 from 10 a.m. to noon in Potter Hall 408. 

The offer for the training was extended to various departments and staffs. 

For instance, David Emerson, associate director of Downing Student Union operations, sent an email to his staff about the training but let them know the training wasn’t mandatory and that they could participate of their own accord.

Louisville junior Charles Buckner, who received an offer to take part in the training, believes it is important to continue to raise awareness in the workplace.

“Being homosexual is being more accepted in the workplace, but some people don’t understand what it is to be homosexual,” Buckner said. “I think this training will help others gain a better understanding of the homosexual lifestyle, and it would help others to respect homosexuals in the workforce.”

Staff counselor Brian Lee said the training will be facilitated by center staff members who will guide conversations concerning the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, intersex, asexual and allied community.

“Some of these discussions may focus more on relaying information in an educational nature, while other discussions may examine the psychological impact experienced,” Lee said via email.

He said the current Safe Zone training program can be best described as “a combination psycho-educational and experiential outreach.” 

Lee said various staff members from the center began offering Safe Zone training several years ago and have continued due to support from members of the campus community. 

The goal of Safe Zone training is to reduce discrimination experienced by this body of our student population.

Lee said he wants to be a voice for the LGBT community and to make the WKU community aware of the issues they may face within the work place. He believes Safe Zone is one of the ways to increase this awareness. 

“Overall, the Safe Zone program seeks to increase our abilities as a campus community members to serve as allies for the LGBTQIA community,” Lee said.

Louisville junior Tyler Chandler said that discrimination on any level needs to be dealt with. Though he did not know much about Safe Zone training, he thinks the goal is commendable.

“To be gender biased or homophobic is discrimination, so it’s wrong and something should be done about it,” Chandler said. “There aren’t people who are comfortable — like myself — who want to be open with their sexuality because [of] fear of losing their jobs.”