LGBTQ Safe Zone Project

The Safe Zone Project is a campus-wide program that offers a visible message of inclusion, affirmation, and support to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people in the university community.

Participants attend up to three educational workshops to learn about the LGBTQ experience and campus/community resources. After completing Phase I and Phase II workshops, participants may choose to become a recognized Safe Zone by displaying the Safe Zone symbol in their workspace.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact us in advance at 335-2388 or by email at (link sends e-mail)

Upcoming Safe Zone Trainings

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Safe Zone

Safe Zone began in the early 1990s as a volunteer initiative of the UI LGBTQ Staff & Faculty Association as part of a national grassroots push to make campuses more inclusive environments for the LGBTQ community. It was a joint project of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity in the Chief Diversity Office and the LGBT Staff and Faculty Association through mid-2010. 

In September 2010, Safe Zone became an official initiative of the Chief Diversity Office and a committee was formed to work on the redesign of the Safe Zone training. . Phase I was redesigned by the committee and rolled out to the campus community.

In the Spring of 2013, the new Phase II redesign was completed and launched. The revamping of Phase I and the launch of Phase II was overseen by a committee that consisted of UI faculty, staff and students. 

In the past, Safe Zone consisted of a four-hour training session, later condensed to a two-hour session. 

In 2015, the Chief Diversity launched a new course, Trans Awareness to specifically fill the need for education around Trans, non-binary, and non-conforming identity.

The Safe Zone Project consists of two phases and a supplemental workshop:

Phase I (2 hours): Introduces basic LGBTQ terms and concepts, helps participants develop an appreciation for the experiences of the LGBTQ people, and brings an overall awareness of LGBTQ issues. Participants will be encouraged to think about how they can create a more inclusive environment and will be prepared to provide resources to LGBTQ people.  

Phase II (2 hours): A case study-based, application-focused session. Participants will gain the tools they need to not only provide resources, but to become an active participant in making our campus a more supportive, inclusive, and affirming place for LBGTQ people. Completion of Phase II will result in becoming an identified Safe Zone Ally.  

Trans Awareness (2 hours): Delves deeper into topics related to gender identity and expression. Participants will gain a better understanding of trans identity, campus resources, challenges individuals from these communities face on campus, and strategies for becoming an increasingly supportive ally. We encourage participants to have completed Phase 1 & 2 prior to attending Trans Awareness however it is not required.

The LGBTQ Safe Zone Project is open to all staff, faculty, students, and community members who are committed to making the University of Iowa a safe environment for ALL of its members, including LGBTQ persons.

Carly Armour, Student Disability Services

Dawn Bates, Residence Life Programs

Shelly Campo, Graduate College

Kelly Clougher, University Counseling Service

Dana Dominguez, Diversity Resources

Lanaya Ethington, University Counseling Service

Patrick Galligan, Residence Life Programs

Joel Gilbertson-White, Spiritual Services

Jodi Graff, Carver College of Medicine Administration

Cassie Harrington, Public Health Administration

Vickie Houser, Student Disability Services

Katie Imborek, Family Medicine

Susan Junis, Rape Victim Advocacy Program

Kailee Karr, Diversity Resources

Paula Keeton, University Counseling Services

Kristin Lang, Academic Advising Center

Elizabeth Lara, Diversity Resources

Bria Marcelo, Diversity Resources

Moni Marcelo, Residence Life Administration

Danielle Martinez, Academic Support and Retention

Sara Mason, Chemistry

Kyle McEvilly, Liberal Arts and Sciences Administration

Megan McDowell, Carver College of Medicine Administration

Ken Morris, Jr., Diversity Resources

Alison Oliver, School of Social Work

Melia Pieper, Liberal Arts and Sciences Administration

Sneha Pitre, University Counseling Services

Sara Riggs, Library Administration

Chris Sande, Surgical Pathology

Teri Schnelle, Office of the VP for Student Life

Cara Solness , Psychology

Anne Sparks, Graduate College

Joseph Steinitz, Rhetoric

Li Tak Chu, Physics and Astronomy

Deb Tiemens, Information Resources Management

Jami Witbeck, Nursing

Why do we need the LGBTQ Safe Zone Project?

The university's Human Rights Policy states "that in no aspect of its programs shall there be differences in the treatment of persons because of race, creed, color, national origin, age, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and any other classification that deprive a person of consideration as an individual, and that equal opportunity and access to facilities shall be available to all."

Local and national studies have repeatedly shown that LGBTQ members of campus communities experience higher levels of harassment or discrimination on campus than non-LGBTQ people.

Does taking the Safe Zone course count towards completing my BUILD certificate?

Absolutely. If you have completed Phase I, Phase II, or Trans Awareness, since 2010, please let us know by sending an email to (link sends e-mail) with the dates completed so that we can give you credit in our database, and a current campus address so that we can send you your medallions. For more information about the Building University of Iowa Leadership for Diversity (BUILD) certificate visit our programs page and click on the BUILD icon.

Does the Chief Diversity Office offer departmental or group Safe Zone courses?

We can offer a limited amount of additional courses to campus and community departments and organizations per year. Those interested in should fill out our training request form (link is external). We are able to accommodate these requests on a first come, first serve basis, and ability is dependent on the availability of our volunteer facilitators.

How do I get trained to become a volunteer facilitator?

The Chief Diversity Office offers Safe Zone Train-the-Trainer sessions every other year, or as needed. To let us know of your interest, email (link sends e-mail) and we will put you on a list to receive notifications of the next facilitator training.