University seeks to help LGBTQ community

Southern+has+developed+a+Safe+Zone+program+to+have+a+network+of+knowledgeable+faculty%2C+staff%2C+and+students+in+order+to+create+safe+and+open+environments+for+everyone.+The+symbol+top+symbol+can+be+found+at+Safe+Zones.

Courtesy of Missouri Southern

Southern has developed a Safe Zone program to have a network of knowledgeable faculty, staff, and students in order to create safe and open environments for everyone. The symbol top symbol can be found at Safe Zones.

Joshua Allmon

Being a college student is a hard lifestyle. Many are going to school full time while also juggling one or two jobs; some even have a family. When you stop and think about it, college is not always easy and stress-free. Imagine throwing in that you’re lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender or questioning; it can make life more challenging.

Because of Missouri Southern’s growing LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) population, the University stepped up and created not just one, but several safe places around campus for people in the LGBTQ community. The University designed these spaces for students to sit down and talk with trained faculty and staff to help them through hard times without facing judgment. The Missouri Southern Safe Zone program was created to have a network of knowledgeable faculty, staff, and students to create safe and open environments for everyone.

The various Safe Zones scattered around the campus help students not just in the LBGTQ community or students questioning their sexuality, but are also meant to assist students of all backgrounds, races, sexualities, and genders.  The Safe Zones have been set up in offices of faculty and staff that have volunteered to take training that helps them to be there for students who need support in understanding what’s going on in their lives or who they are.  They are also there for those who only want to talk with somebody in an entirely private setting.

Member Kathleen Studebaker wanted to became a part of the Safe Zone to provide support to students while they are here at Southern.

“I understand how hard It is and I want to be one of the people that they can trust to come to,” she said.

Safe Zone allies can be identified by the Safe Zone signs which hang from their office doors stating, “This space is a Safe Zone.” These partners are dedicated to increasing their knowledge of LGBTQ issues and challenge homophobic and heterosexist comments or behaviors in an educational and informative manner.

Students entering a Safe Zone can expect complete confidentiality, information about resources, a safe environment, and support. Allies can also refer individuals to university counseling services.

“With two of my best friends being a part of the LGBTQ community, it makes me feel great knowing that Southern created something to help such a great community of people,” said Miranda Tracy, sophomore elementary education major.