WKU offering training for LGBT issues


WKU Counseling and Testing Center is offering faculty and staff training on dealing with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community on campus.

The SafeZone session, developed in the 1990s, trains faculty and staff on how to handle student-related LGBT issues. According to the session’s homepage, schools such as New York University and Clemson University currently use SafeZone.

Eric Manley, a counselor with the center, leads the one-hour sessions. Manley said the trainings help faculty and staff understand their students better, as well as prepare them if a student struggling with issues related to gender identity needs someone to talk to.

“At the end of the training, participants are given a SafeZone sticker that they can put up in their office,” Manley said via email. “This lets a gay student know that the professor or administrator is someone safe and that they can talk to them about LGBT concerns. I think this is a very effective program because it demonstrates that the faculty, staff and administration are sympathetic to LGBT issues, and they are there to help.”

This isn’t the first time the university has offered these sessions.

Molly Kerby, assistant professor in the Gender and Women’s Studies Program, helped start the SafeZone program at WKU several years ago. Kerby said the first round of SafeZone sessions died out.

“We used to have a lot of participation,” Kerby said in an email. “It just began to be hard to run. We had spotty student involvement, and most faculty were so busy that it was hard to keep up with trainings and delivery of stickers.”

The next SafeZone session will be held in Potter Hall at 4 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 29. Manley said the initial meeting on Oct. 18 had about eight faculty and staff participants, all of whom were engaged and participated in the discussions.

“For future sessions, I’m looking forward to reaching and training more of WKU’s employees,” he said. “I think that this is an important resource for LGBT students and I want to do everything I can to help these students have a safe and supportive contact. I also look forward to meeting staff and faculty from across campus so that they can also be aware of the services we provide at the counseling center.”

Manley said that while the center currently conducts the program, he’d really like to collaborate with other campus groups to grow the program. Currently, Manley said he is discussing working with the Gender and Women’s Studies Program on future sessions.