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Safe Space training aims to teach Marshall community about inclusivity on campus

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Students and faculty attended Safe Space Training in Drinko Library on Monday to become more aware of the LGBTQ+ community and how to respect those included in this community. The purpose of the training was to reduce homophobia, transphobia, cisgenderisms, as well as other gender and sexuality phobias or misunderstandings on Marshall’s campus.

Shaunte Polk, program administrator at Marshall University, coordinated the event with the Social Justice, Diversity and LGBTQ+ committees. Polk spoke about why the groups wanted to provide members of this community with allies and resources on campus.

“It came out of a necessity for the community to identify people who will support (the LGBTQ+ community),” Polk said. “To have spaces where they have support and can feel safe.”

The event covered common mistakes people make when addressing the LGBTQ+ community. These included using correct gender pronouns, accepting people when they announce they are coming out or transitioning, as well as how sex does not mean gender.

Feon Smith, associate professor for Adult and Continuing Education, attended the event so she could learn more about the offices and resources available for Marshall students who may be struggling to find help. After the training ended though, she said that the most interesting thing she learned was using accurate personal pronouns for people who may not identify with he or she.

“Primarily, what I learned today was all the different pronouns and how there are so many of them,” Smith said. “That helped me because (Polk) mentioned pronouns in the classroom, and I have never thought to ask someone.”

The training also included videos from YouTuber chescaleigh, Buzzfeed and Wanda Sykes to show the attendees how to be better allies to the community. Ways of doing so include asking questions, listening instead of talking and never trying to force someone to out them self.

Polk also encouraged everyone who attended to recognize that the LGBTQ community is not just part of that community, but they are also athletes, scholars, parents and more.

“We single them out as just being LGBTQ,” Polk said. “They are so much more than that. That is just a piece of who they are. So, let’s recognize them as more than that.”

Sarah Ingram can be contacted at [email protected].

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