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Safe Zone

Safe Zone


Safe Zone provides a visible message of inclusion, support, and allyship for all orientations, genders, identities, and levels of being “out.” Safe Zone is committed to creating a safe and affirming environment for everyone at WVU, including those who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) and allied students, faculty, staff, facility members and administrators.

The mission of Safe Zone is to foster an atmosphere of support and celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning individuals on the WVU campus. We do this by identifying, educating, and supporting allies on our campus, such as students, faculty, and staff who consider themselves to be open to and knowledgeable about LGBTQ issues.

Safe Zone is also designed to improve visibility and support of LGBTQ issues. This is especially important because while other members of minority groups can often identify mentors and role models, the invisibility of sexual orientation makes it difficult for WVU students, faculty, and staff who are LGBTQ to identify those to whom they can safely turn for support, advocacy, and information.

Safe Zone provides access to more easily discernible individuals who are available to provide support and information. WVU’s Safe Zone symbol is a message that a campus community member has participated in Safe Zone training and is committed to fostering an atmosphere of support and celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning individuals on the WVU campus.

Upcoming Training Dates

Safe Zone is open to ALL students, staff, faculty, and community members who come to the program voluntarily. After completing the training you will submit a Safe Zone contract, and will receive a Safe Zone sign to display.

The two hour workshop provides an opportunity for participants to explore their personal identities, privilege and what it means to be an ally at WVU. This program creates ongoing educational experiences between Safe Zone members and the WVU community that encourage students, faculty, and staff to explore cultural identity, values and stereotypes in order to better understand how these issues affect the greater community.


For questions or comments, please contact:

Please direct any questions to Jorge A. Castillo via email at:

To RSVP to Safe Zone training, please fill out this form.


What is Safe Zone WVU?
Safe Zone is a program designed to identify individuals on the WVU campus who consider themselves to be open to and knowledgeable about LGBTQ issues. Members display a Safe Zone symbol to demonstrate their acceptance of LGBTQ individuals.

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Why do we have Safe Zone?
West Virginia University is proud of its increasingly diverse population and is committed to developing and sustaining a campus community which feels safe and celebratory for all its members. Safe Zone is a tangible way to demonstrate that all sexual orientations and gender presentations are part of our culture and are acknowledged and supported.

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What does it mean if I see a Safe Zone sticker displayed?
A Safe Zone symbol identifies members of our campus community who have chosen to educate themselves about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning issues and have information about local resources. Safe Zone symbols help convey a message that the person displaying the symbol is supportive, trustworthy, and sensitive to the needs and concerns of LGBTQ individuals. In addition, the symbol indicates that all viewpoints regarding sexual orientation and gender identity will be addressed in an educational, informative, and non-threatening manner. The symbol is not an indication of a person’s sexual orientation or any particular moral or political viewpoint—it merely states he or she wants to ensure LGBTQ individuals at WVU are free to be full members of the community.

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Do I already need to know about the LGBTQ resources to join?
Members of Safe Zone need only to be open-minded and supportive to the needs of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning individuals, and be willing to learn about issues related to sexual orientation.

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Do I have to be LGBTQ to join Safe Zone?
Displaying the Safe Zone symbol does NOT mean that you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or questioning, or that you will participate in any LGBTQ activities. Displaying the symbol does communicate your willingness to foster an atmosphere of support and celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning individuals on the WVU campus.

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What do Safe Zone members do?
Members agree to be respectful of and develop an understanding of LGBTQ individuals and commit to educating themselves on LGBTQ issues. Safe Zone members also agree to be a resource to LGBTQ individuals, as well as make appropriate referrals. Safe Zone members agree to maintain confidentiality at work and actively use inclusive language, avoid stereotyping, and do not assume heterosexuality. Lastly, and most importantly, Safe Zone members may make a difference in someone’s life and possibly never know about it.

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How do I join Safe Zone?
Interested students, faculty, and staff can email the Safe Zone coordinator, Sean Fitzwater, at or T. Anne Hawkins at to request information regarding the next Safe Zone training opportunity.

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What are the goals of Safe Zone?
Safe Zone Goals:
  • Create a campus culture and climate that is more welcoming to and affirming of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning students, faculty and staff, and their families.
  • Establish a University-wide network of visible allies and mentors who can provide support, information, and assistance to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning students, faculty, and staff.
  • Provide lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning campus members comfortable access to trustworthy, knowledgeable and sensitive people who can provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment.
  • Provide an opportunity for WVU students, faculty, and staff to demonstrate their support for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning.
  • Provide all on-campus students an opportunity to respond to instances of discrimination and harassment based on perceived or self-reported sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
  • Educate members of the University community on the needs and concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning students.
  • Foster a campus atmosphere which supports the academic and professional success of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning students, as well as their personal and social growth.
  • Advance the University’s progress towards a campus that discourages discrimination and openly celebrates diversity.

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Becoming a Safe Zone Member
Students, faculty, and staff are often recommended for membership by current Safe Zone members, the co-sponsors, and by other members of the University community. Interested individuals can also contact the coordinator directly ( and express their interest in becoming a Safe Zone member.

Those individuals who are interested and/or have been recommended are invited to attend a training session, which imparts knowledge, sensitivity, and information about referral sources and the role of Safe Zone members. Following the training workshop, members who choose to become Safe Zone members are provided a symbol for their office or workstation. Periodic “Refresher Workshops” are provided to further extend members’ knowledge and to provide for learning from one another. Safe Zone members who choose to do so can also participate in a list serve which provides additional updates and resources (two to three emails per month).

As a result of posting a Safe Zone sticker:
  • You may find LGBTQ students, faculty, staff, campus visitors, and patients speak more freely and censor their speech less, providing a more genuine exchange with you.
  • You may find LGBTQ students, faculty, staff, campus visitors, and patients will feel more at ease and will anticipate a non-judgmental atmosphere.
  • You may never notice a difference in the interactions you have with students, faculty, staff, campus visitors, and patients, but—even so—you will make a difference.
  • You will make a personal contribution to improving the WVU campus environment for students, faculty, staff, and their families.
Students, faculty, and staff who participate in the program agree to the following:
  • Complete a Safe Zone training session (or comparable experience)
  • Display a Safe Zone symbol
  • Serve as a resource to members of the campus community who may wish to discuss LGBTQ issues
  • Provide information about University and community LGBTQ resources
  • Maintain privacy as described during the training process
  • Actively (though imperfectly) use inclusive language and challenge hate speech, name-calling, discrimination, and real or threatened violence as it pertains to LGBTQ students, faculty, staff, and families

The Safe Zone program makes no assumption regarding the reasons people choose not to participate. Publicity about the program clearly describes volunteers as persons who have chosen to be identified and available as sources of confidential support, respect, assistance, and accurate information related to LGBTQ issues and concerns.

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Safe Zone Training
Safe Zone is committed to providing faculty, staff, and student leaders with the necessary knowledge and tools to serve as allies to the LGBTQ community on campus. Training sessions are generally held three to four times per year. During these interactive sessions, participants are provided with information regarding:

- Language

- Importance of allies

- LGBTQ stereotypes

- Coming out process

- Campus and community climate issues

- Campus and community resources

At the conclusion of the training session, participants have the opportunity to sign a Member Agreement that affirms their intention to serve as an ally to the LGBTQ campus community. Upon return of the member agreement, participants receive a Safe Zone symbol. Participants are not required to sign this agreement, but may simply attend the training session to increase their awareness and personal knowledge.