'Safe Space Committee' works to challenge 'heterosexism'

Old Dominion University’s “Safe Space Committee” is seeking to cultivate a climate of diversity by reducing “homophobia, transphobia and heterosexism” on campus.

According to the committee’s website, the organization is dedicated “to a vision of a community that is open, safe, and accepting to all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning people and allies.”

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Heterosexism, a term that commonly appears in the gender studies literature, relates to the alleged prejudice against homosexuals based on the idea that heterosexuality is the more desirable form of sexual orientation.

To curb heterosexism and other forms of alleged discrimination, the committee provides training courses and educational programs for the university’s students and faculty.

The training initiatives include programs such as the Safe Space Ally Certification, Student Ally Certification, and LGBTQ 101.

The programs are mainly designed to “educate the community on issues/trends/concerns with LGBTQ students, faculty and staff” and “provide an overview of what it means to be an ‘ally’ for any ODU faculty, staff or student.”

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The Safe Space Committee’s website provides a detailed list of various initiatives for students and faculty, including other LGBT groups, activist events, and networks.

The website also touts the “Spectrum Living-Learning Community,” that is said to be “ideal for students wanting to embrace diversity in a safe and affirming environment” for LGBTQ+ students.

The campus housing community further encourages residents “to freely explore issues of gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, and the intersection of those while advocating for awareness and social justice.”

All university students “who wish to live in and advocate for a safe environment for gender identity and expression” are eligible for the housing program. The initiative also contains a “course requirement” section that allows participating students to “choose from various experiences to fulfill requirements of living in the community.”

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