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Safe Spaces on campus offer support to LGBTQIQ+ students

Anjanae Crump, Managing Editor

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The University of New Orleans is taking steps to provide a welcoming environment to its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex and queer population. The Safe Space Alliances Program is one of its implemented strategies.


Assistant Director for First Year Student Success and Safe Space Facilitator Mike Hoffshire said, “The program started in 2010 when members of the diversity cabinet recognized that there was a lot of suicides and discrimination and hate crimes happening across college campuses in the United States.”


“There was a particular case, the Tyler Clementi case which happened in 2010, in which Tyler had a roommate at his college, Rutgers University, and his roommate videotaped him having a sexual relationship with a guy. He ended up posting that information all over the internet, which went viral, and unfortunately, Tyler ended up committing suicide because of that.”


It was after this incident that many colleges, nationwide, started safe space programs, and UNO was soon to join them.  


Hoffshire said, “The safe space training we offer is a three-hour training, and it helps to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ issues that are happening in the country today, particularly on college campuses. It also helps to mobilize and identify a support network for those students.”


He continued, “Anyone can participate in the training. You don’t have to be a member of the queer community to participate, but if you want to know more information about the community and learn what some of the differences are between sex and gender or what the coming out process looks like for an individual who may not fall in a dominant category or you want to learn about how to be a more effective ally and support system for those students and/or people in your life, then that would be a great program for you to participate in.”


Junior Cion Conerly said, “I think sometimes, people don’t realize just how unsupported LGBTQ+ students feel because they’re not in the same situation. So a program where the LGBTQ+ community can come together and feel safe and get support will help them.”


While there aren’t any officially dedicated physical safe spaces, anyone who completes the training can show their support wherever they are and staff/faculty may dedicate their office as a safe space.


Hoffshire said, “At the end of the program, if you wish, you are allowed to take a sticker which identifies you as a safe-space ally. Some people choose to put them on office doors, some put them on their laptops, but it lets students, faculty and staff know that the space they’re entering is a safe space where they can be themselves. They can talk about issues of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression in an open manner.”


Freshman Miranda Liles said, “I would love to support LGBTQ+ students. I have a few friends in that community and this is definitely something they would appreciate.”


The training dates for fall have not yet been set but will be announced in the upcoming months. Any interested students may contact Hoffshire at mhoffsh[email protected] or 504-280-6148.


Hoffshire said, “It is completely free. It doesn’t cost anything, and I think it’s fantastic for everyone to go through. Many times, students aren’t necessarily always raised in the most diverse environment, so it’s a great place: a judgement-free zone to get more information.”

 

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The student news site of the University of New Orleans
Safe Spaces on campus offer support to LGBTQIQ+ students