Safe Space Training

Curriculum ideas

I. Breaking the ice

• Sort and mingle: Ask participants to divide themselves into categories based on an either/or question like “Who has had a student come out to them?” or “Crest or Colgate?” Then, have members from one group walk over and introduce themselves to members of the other group.

• Interview: When did you know your sexuality? What did you learn about LGBT people growing up?

• Find someone who: Grid with characteristics. Have to get people to sign, form bingo.

• Ground rules: Participate, Respect one another’s ideas, Open and honest communication, Confidentiality, Experiment with new ideas, Step forward/back, Seek to understand

II. Establishing biases

• Stereotypes: Ask participants to complete sentences with the first thought that comes to mind. For example, “As a parent, if I found out my children were taught by a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender teacher, I would…”

• Past experiences: Describe what you heard (or didn’t hear) about LGBT people while growing up and completing your training.

• Guess who? A panel of five participants introduce themselves with basic demographic information. The audience asks general questions and then guesses how the panelists identify themselves.

• What’s the harm? How does homophobia negatively impact us?

• Anonymous inquiry: Write embarrassing questions on index card

III. Getting your facts straight

• Terminology matchup: Small groups complete a worksheet by matching a list of words like “queer,” “sexual orientation,” “gender” with a list of definitions.

• LGBT Jeopardy: Set up quiz bowl teams and buzzers. An emcee reads questions about LGBT history and Boston-area LGBT hangouts. Teams compete for correct answers.

• What does the Bible say? Participants identify what the Bible really says about homosexuality.

• Know your rights: What does Massachusetts state law protect? Federal? Local? BUSM?

IV. Gaining empathy

• Transgender 101: Invite a trans person to speak and answer questions.

• Panel discussion: Members of MedGlo describe their experiences as med students.

• Heteronormativity: Ask members of the group if they have ever felt excluded or invisible. Lead a guided visualization of what a world would look like where heterosexuality is a stigmatized minority. Show forms that list “husband” and “wife.”

• Stand up/Sit down: Ask all members to stand. Then read a list of gender norm violations (A man who likes musicals, a woman with short hair). If a person fits that category, he or she will sit down. When finished reading the list, most of the people will be seated. Announce that those seemingly minor transgressions are all reasons people face harassment.

V. Building skills

• Coming out: Break the participants into groups of three or four. Pass around short written descriptions of a student who announces his or her sexuality. Have the groups discuss how they would react in each situation.

• How to intervene in harassment: Role play scenarios where homophobic comments come up (“That’s so gay”) and enlist participants to suggest how they should respond.

i. Name it, claim it, stop it.

ii. Use humor

iii. Ask questions

VI. Maintaining skills

• Referral map: The group generates a list of resources on campus and in Boston that trainees could access for more help.

• Ally expectations: Each participant expresses what he or she expects from posting a safe space sticker on their door. Facilitator draws out the common themes.

• Start/Stop/Continue: What things can you start doing, stop doing, or continue that will challenge heterosexism/genderism

• Design an inclusive intake form

Resources