Safe Zone Program

The Safe Zone program is currently under review. Please check back soon for more information about future trainings.


What is the Safe Zone Program?alt="Saff member standing next to Safe Zone placard on door"

The purpose of the Safe Zone program is to challenge homophobia, transphobia, cisgenderism, and heterosexism on the Iowa State University campus by encouraging welcoming and inclusive environments for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer or Questioning, Asexual, and Ally (LGBTQIA+) students, faculty, and staff.

This goal will be achieved by educating Safe Zone training participants about LGBTQIA+ issues, and providing resources and support for LGBTQIA+ students, faculty, and staff exploring issues of sexual identity, gender identity, and gender expression.

Who should participate?

All Iowa State University faculty, staff, and graduate assistants are encouraged to participate in the Safe Zone 101 Trainings.


How Do I Register?

The 4-hour Safe Zone 101 training requires pre-registration. To register for a Safe Zone 101 training please begin by choosing an upcoming training option from the list appearing on this page:

Safe Zone 101 Training Information and Upcoming Trainings


What are Safe Zones?

Safe Zones provide welcoming and inclusive spaces that are highly visible and easily identifiable to LGBTQIA+ people - spaces that seek to be supportive of people of all gender and sexual identiies and expressions. Safe Zones are commonly identified as "ally" programs, where members of the LGBTQIA+ communities receive support from and work together with allies.

--Adapted from: The Safe Zone Foundation. "Resources for Safe Zone Programs"

How does Safe Zone work?

The main purpose of a Safe Zone program is to visibly mark people and places that are welcoming and inclusive for LGBTQIA+ students. This is usually accomplished through a sticker with a pink triangle or some other recognizable LGBTQIA+ symbol. When students and staff affix stickers to their lockers, desks, backpacks, or office doors, it signifies an affirmation of LGBTQIA+ people and lets others know that they are a safe person to approach for support or guidance.


-- adapted from The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network. "GLSEN SAFE SPACE: A How-To Guide for Starting an Allies Program"


What is the Role and Responsibility of a Safe Zone Member?


  • Understand your own feelings on LGBTQIA+ issues

  • Understand socialization, prejudice, and privilege

  • Understand why it is important to be an Ally

  • Understand how heterosexism and homophobia affect both LGBTQIA+ people and people who are not LGBTQIA+

Knowledge and Education:

  • Learn about LGBTQIA+ communities and cultures

  • Learn about LGBTQIA+ and Safe Zone symbols

  • Critically think about the effect of policies, laws, and practices on the lives of LGBTQIA+ people

  • Know the LGBTQIA+ resources and services provided at ISU

  • Talk with and learn from LGBTQIA+ friends, classmates, roommates, and colleagues


  • Challenge homophobia, transphobia, and heterosexism

  • Avoid assumptions, and ask about things you don’t understand

  • Provide correct information when you hear myths and misperceptions about LGBTQIA+ people

  • Use inclusive language, avoid stereotyping, and do not assume everyone is heterosexual

  • Support your LGBTQIA+ friends, family, colleagues

--Adapted from Washington, J. & Evans, N. J. (1991). “Becoming an Ally.” in Beyond tolerance: Gays, lesbians, and bisexuals on campus.

Why do I need training?

1. We all were taught not to know.

The society we live in allows LGBTQIA+ people and issues to remain largely invisible. Even though you might have good intentions, you might not know how to best support students and colleagues. How much you know about LGBTQIA+ people and the issues that impact them directly affects your effectiveness as an ally.

2. We don’t have an “automatic response”.

Most of us know how to react to overtly racist and sexist behavior. There are some slurs that, in no uncertain terms, are deemed unacceptable for use in school and most everywhere else. But when people hear anti-LGBTQIA+ slurs being used, they often have no idea how to respond. Most people haven’t been taught how. Training will help you learn an “automatic response” to bias.

3. Standing up for LGBTIQA rights can be risky.

Unfortunately, bias still sometimes leads to violence. Allies need to know how to stand up for LGBTQIA+ rights while being conscious of the safety and security of themselves and others.

--Adapted from: The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network. "GLSEN SAFE SPACE: A How-To Guide for Starting an Allies Program" 

What May I Expect After Posting A Placard?

As a result of posting a Safe Zone placard:
  • You may find that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students, faculty, and staff censor their speech less, providing a more genuine exchange with you.
  • You may find that students, faculty, and staff will be more at ease and will anticipate a non-judgmental atmosphere in your workplace.
  • You may never notice a difference in the interactions you have with students, faculty, and staff, but you will make a difference.
  • You will make a personal contribution to improving ISU's campus environment and the lives of its community members.

How Can I  Create A "Safe Zone"?

There are many things that you can do to make you and your workspace feel like a Safe Zone for LGBT students and colleagues. Here are some of our suggestions:
  • Believe that our campus is enriched and enlivened by the diversity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.
  • Be aware of the presence of LGBT students, faculty, and staff and be willing to engage in genuine dialog and interaction.
  • Be willing to discuss issues impacting LGBT people's lives in a non-judgmental manner.
  • Know LGBT resources and be willing to refer students to support and information resources on campus and in the community.
  • Comfortably use inclusive language, avoid stereotyping, and do not assume everyone is heterosexual.
  • Maintain confidentiality.

What Else Can I Do?

  • Acquaint yourself with people that identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. Learn more about LGBT culture by reading books, making friends, attending functions, and celebrating!
  • Challenge homophobia, transphobia and heterosexism (e.g. remarks, jokes, behaviors, cartoons, language, etc.)
  • Continue to educate yourself by attending programs and events hosted by LGBTSS and groups on campus. Check our website for upcoming educational events.