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On Thursday Feb. 18, 2016, the Gay Straight Alliance hosted a political workshop concerning the HB1840 bill that might pass in the Tennessee legislature.

Gay Straight Alliance offers safe zone training during equality workshop series

The first event in GSA’s equality workshop series, Safe Zone Training, welcomed students and faculty to learn how to better spot microaggressions and make individuals of other sexual orientations, religions, races, ethnicities and gender identities feel safe around others.

On Thursday, Feb. 18, in MUC 305, eight attendants gathered around a table, introduced themselves, and were given worksheets. On the worksheets, they were asked to draw lines from phrases to their possible meanings.

The phrases included direct associations such as connecting “you throw like a girl” to “feminine traits are undesirable” along with possible translations like “everyone can succeed if they try hard enough” to “If you don’t have ‘the basics,’ you must be lazy.”

The Safe Zone workshop was as an opportunity for people to become familiar with the diversity they might come across in their work places or day-to-day lives.

“I’m here to see how this workshop can help make a safer environment for the people on our campus,” said senior philosophy major Tory Dillard. “We want to make sure that if [LGBT students and students of other religious affiliation] come to our Bible studies they feel free to talk about who they are and know they are welcome.”

Papers naming different demographics were placed around the rooms. A series of questions were asked and participants were asked to go to the table that most applied to their answer.

Afterward, the students present were divided into teams and given lists of privileges. The students were supposed to choose which ones they would keep if they could only choose three. The list included privileges such as health insurance rights and the right to see someone’s partner in an emergency situation.

“Things like this all open your eyes to different situations and different ways of thinking,” said Vicky Hausler, who is getting her master’s degree in social work.

The GSA’s safe zone brought together students to share their ways of thinking and learn in ways that can be applied to interactions with others afterward.

About Courtney Gaither

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