It is unclear as to who first developed a "safe program" on a college campus but the initial chapter was founded on the campus of Ball State University in 1992. Their program was known by two names "Safe on Campus" and "Staff, Administration, and Faculty for Equality on Campus" and was run by the Lesbian, Bisexual, and Gay Student Association. Since that time "safe programs" have been established on college campuses throughout the country and are known by a variety of names which include, but are not limited to: Safe Space, Safe Harbor and Safe on Campus.
The purpose of “Safe Programs” across the country is to eradicate homophobia and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, allied, asexual and intersex (LGBTQQAAI) people on college campuses. The program acts as a bridge between those members of the heterosexual community, known as Allies, who are supportive of inclusion and equality for the LGBTQQAAI community. The program is designed to provide a safe, positive environment for members of the LGBTQQAAI community on campus. The program also serves as a sounding board for members to voice their particular concerns relating to gay/heterosexual relationships on campus and on how to build better communications between and among the two groups.
Through collaboration with various other campus organizations and community partnerships such as the Gay Straight Alliance, the Safe Zone program will afford our campus community the opportunity to be a part of safe environment where they can speak freely and openly about the issues that affect them personally, socially and academically. It is only through constructive dialogue and working together that the issue of homophobia can be addressed and the level of hatred and mistrust alleviated.
Extant data supports that it is difficult to sustain effectual institutional change without the support of the campus community inclusive of administrators, faculty, staff and students. Through collaborative efforts we offer a safe space for the entire campus community; a place where everyone is valued for their authenticity without pretense, for their diverse contributions.
The Safe Zone program, sponsored by the Office of Training and Intercultural Education, was founded in 2012, under the leadership of Dr. DaNine J. Fleming, Director of Training and Intercultural Education and Dr. Willette S. Burnham, Executive Director of the Office of Student Programs, Director of Student Diversity, to serve as a platform to address the issues facing the LGBTQQAAI community on our campus. Although both professionals were trained in the past, seeing the need for campus support with a primary emphasis on students, Drs’ Burnham and Fleming received additional training at the College of Charleston. The initial campus training occurred in the Fall of 2012 led by the College of Charleston Safe Zone chapter.
We are partnered with the MUSC Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) http://academicdepartments.musc.edu/gsa, Alliance for Full Acceptance (AFFA) http://www.affa-sc.org/ and We Are Family http://www.waf.org/.