On April 4, the Center for Multicultural Events held Safe Space Training, an educational program designed to educate the Missouri Western community in order to establish a safe, more civil society for individuals of all sexual orientations.
Multicultural Education Director Latoya Fitzpatrick said the CME holds the training on an annual basis to allow better understanding of different students.
“Our students have many different identities so we need to understand everyone of our students,” Fitzpatrick said. “We have other trainings and presentations throughout the year to focus on other identities that are important to understand and work with as well.”
Westerns primary purpose of presenting this program is to reduce homophobia, transphobia, heterosexism and cisgenderism on campuses to make it a safer and freer environment for all members of the community, regardless of sexual or gender diversity. Safe space training was to enhance knowledge and awareness of LGBTQ issues, to establish a network of allies, to reduce the fear of reprisal and discrimination on campus and to assist LGBTQ and allied students in achieving their educational goals by creating an environment in which they can be themselves. Safe Space is built off of knowledge, awareness, skills and action and resources.
Dianah Hidzir, Program Assistant for the Center for Multicultural Education (CME), explained the purpose behind the training.
“The Center for Multicultural Education chose to have it because we are big on inclusiveness and diversity, and we aim to help Griffons understand better about marginalized groups, such as the LGBTQ community. This program did exactly that. We had folks come in learn about the history of LGBTQ, the definitions of different terms, we brainstormed on how to make the campus more inclusive, and [much] more,” Hidzir said.
The point of the seminar was to create safe space training for ally development on college campuses. An ally is a commitment made by a community member who takes a stand against social injustice directed at a target group(s). An ally works to be an agent of social change rather than an agent of oppression.
Fitzpatrick thinks the most important topic that was talked about during the presentation was the use of pronouns.
“The important topic from the training was pronouns. Asking people what pronouns they use is a sign of respect and if we all could do just that little thing in our classes or when we interact with students they would feel that much more comfortable coming to us,” Fitzpatrick said.
Hidzir feels that coming up with different ideas and strategies to make a classroom setting more comfortable for an LGBTQ student was the most important topic covered.
“One important topic that stood out to me was definitely the interest of the attendees to come up with ideas and strategies to make the Missouri Western campus more inclusive,” Hidzir said. “We talked a lot about how to implement those efforts in both in and outside of a classroom setting.”