Safer People, Safer Spaces

Earlier this week I attended a terrific program called “Safer People, Safer Spaces.” This 3 hour training, offered by the LGBT Resource Center at Syracuse University, was attended by students, faculty, staff, and community members.

True to the course description, this training was as close to comprehensive as could be provided in that amount of time. The facilitators incorporated many different activities which engaged all of us to better understand and develop our sense of allyship.

spss-stickerI was so moved to see such a diverse group of students, faculty, staff, and community members who were willing to give up 3 hours for this training. Students received no credits; this was not a course or job requirement. Each attendee simply had a desire to give of themselves to better understand others… and become a better ally.

At the conclusion of the training we discussed the “Statement of Allyship” embraced by the Center:

Statement of Allyship
Allyship is a process built through relationships; it requires commitment, understanding, hope, and humility. We believe allyship also requires a dedication to continuous self-awareness and self-exploration. Recognizing and understanding the pervasiveness of privilege and oppression, both across and within identity groups, is integral to ally development. Allies are accountable for the influence and impact of their actions to the broader social world, and our goal is that allies will ultimately join in efforts to achieve liberation.

Given that the training was offered by the LGBT Resource Center, and that most of the learning outcomes and activities centered on becoming a community of allies for people with marginalized genders and sexualities, I took particular interest in noting that the Statement of Allyship does not mention LGBT, gender or sexuality.

You may have noticed that the Mission Statement for the Ally Project also doesn’t mention or restrict being an ally only within the LGBT community.

Granted, we became passionate allies after learning our son is transgender. We were blessed to find countless allies in the LGBT community who guided and supported us through what was, at times, a very difficult and painful journey. Through our experiences we also learned first-hand of the inequities, injustices, and discrimination that still exist in the LGBT community. All of this led to our decision and commitment to help raise awareness and bring about positive change… and we became passionate allies.

It is convenient to become allies to those communities most near and dear, but all too often we, including myself, are guilty of limiting our minds and our good intentions to only those communities.

Finding love and compassion for all is a higher calling for allies, and so at the Ally Project our definition of an ally is purposely much broader and does not unduly restrict application to only the LGBT community. If we can look beyond our differences and consider how we treat all people… and have compassion and openness to all regardless of how we or they identify… we have hope for a world where nobody is marginalized or oppressed.

Kudos to the LGBT Resource Center at Syracuse University and kudos to everyone who attended the Safer People, Safer Spaces training!