Ohio University’s LGBT Center has a mission of cultivating a safe and civil environment that affirms diverse forms of sexuality, gender identity and expression and queerness. One of the ways the center looks to inform and educate LGBT people and their allies is through SafeZone training.

SafeZone is the LGBT Center’s signature educational initiative. It’s a workshop and training seminar that focuses on familiarizing audiences with the world of sexual and gender diversity. The idea is to create a “safe zone” to support people who identify as LGBTQ+ and how they intersect with race, gender, class and more. 

The training is delivered to different student groups, faculty groups or anyone who requests it. However, for two hours on Wednesday, the LGBT Center is hosting an open training for anyone who wants to better educate themselves on inclusivity. 

 If You Go: 

What: •SafeZone Training for all

Where: •Baker Center 230
When: •Wednesday, 3 p.m. 

Admission: •Free 

Jan Huebenthal, assistant director of the LGBT Center, appreciates the training because he feels it’s a good step toward a more inclusive campus.

“I think it’s fun, very non-judgmental and just really gives people the tools and the language to be a part of this inclusive community that we’re building here at Ohio,” Huebenthal said.

Between OU’s main campus and all of the branch campuses, Huebenthal and LGBT Center Director Micah McCarey did over 20 presentations for SafeZone. Huebenthal believes SafeZone is truly a testament to OU’s leadership in diversity and inclusion. 

Each training is geared toward the specific group that requested the training. For example, if Huebenthal was training a group of teachers, he would focus on how to support students in the classroom. But if Huebenthal was training a group of administrators or people engaged in college life, he would shift the perspective to college students and how to best support them.

Huebenthal believes the training is important because it wipes away the ignorance he feels a lot of homophobia is rooted in. 

“When people take that hour and a half to really be present and engaged with the curriculum and really understand historically, culturally and contextually what LGBTQ experiences are like, there’s something that kind of clicks in them,” Huebenthal said.

OU students see the benefit of holding the workshop and training as well. 

“It’s good to learn how to better talk to people,” Macie Oddo, a senior studying communication sciences and disorders, said. “Everyone has their own ways they want to be addressed. It’s good to broaden people’s views and help with inclusivity.” 

Fiona Schmidt, a freshman studying biology, agrees with Huebenthal that homophobia and ignorance about people who identify as LGBTQ+ comes from a lack of knowledge and education.

“There’s definitely a lot of normalized homophobia in our society, and having some sort of training about how to address people in a specific way is really important,” Schmidt said. “Especially in this age of triggers, it’s also important to be conscientious of your community and make people feel as comfortable as possible within the school.”