Putting LGBTQIA awareness to work

by Steffi Lee

A Simpson College organization has restarted an awareness program with campus inclusivity in mind.
Simpson PRIDE, an organization promoting respect for LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual) communities, recently geared up efforts to revamp the Safe Zone program.
President Erica Barz said the Safe Zone program will have a specific symbol for Simpson College to help represent as many identities as possible on campus.
“The Safe Zone program has existed in the past, but it hasn’t been updated for a very long time,” Barz said. “There were some professors who still had a pink triangle (from the past), and they didn’t match. It just hasn’t been revamped for a while.”
Barz and professor CoryAnne Harrigan, Simpson PRIDE adviser, decided it was time to dig into past documents and create a new symbol that would be distributed to students, faculty and staff.
The Simpson College Safe Zone symbol contains five parts. The black symbol in the middle illustrates transgender, the pink triangle symbolizes the pink triangle used in World War II to designate gay concentration camp prisoners, the purple triangle combined with the blue circle symbolize colors of the bisexual flag and the entire
symbol is surrounded by a rainbow circle, illustrating LGBTQIA pride.
Barz said the goal of the Safe Zone program is for the symbol to create a comfortable environment on campus.
Simpson PRIDE sent out a document to students saying it may create a
nonjudgmental atmosphere in the workplace, help community members make a difference to people under the LGBTQIA community and may create a less censored speech.
“There’s (also) a glossary of different terms in the document,” Barz said.
The terms are further defined for community members to understand gender and sexuality and are taken from the 2013 Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference. The Safe Zone program document also contains an anecdote from a previous student to show students the impact of this program.
Director of counseling services Ellie Olson said opening up the Safe Zone program to students was a suggestion she made to the organization.

“I brought it up because it just seems to me that it’s certainly nice to know that faculty and staff are opening up in a safe space,” Olson said. “It might be really nice for students to know who feels trustworthy for them. It’s a different experience than talking to a faculty or staff member.”


Olson said the Safe Zone program is a nice way to show peer-to-peer support.


“If lots of people do sign up, it can be useful to that minority on campus and could be helpful to a lot of people,” she said. “Only time will tell, but this is a great place to start.”


Simpson PRIDE also has other events planned outside of the Safe Zone program. October will be a crucial month for Simpson PRIDE because it’s HIV awareness month, she said.


Barz said she hopes the program will spark a conversation and that all community members are welcome to participate in both the program and Simpson PRIDE.


“The main goal of the (Safe Zone) program is so that LGBTQIA people on campus can see that there are people who support them,” she said.