ATCC introduces LGBT friendly Safe Zone
Alexandria Technical and Community College has joined a wave of colleges across the country that have incorporated a safe zone on their campuses.
Safe zones are a haven for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) students to find connections in the community. Whether a student has recently moved to the area or is a local resident who is new to the college, he or she can find someone to talk to in a safe zone.
Alexandria Technical and Community College (ATCC) Registrar Debra LeDoux became safe zone certified last year at the University of Minnesota Morris campus and set up a one-woman safe zone at ATCC.
"Probably 90 percent of people at ATCC don't know the safe zone is here," LeDoux said. "The Morris campus is very out and open. The community is very accepting."
LeDoux's certification is displayed outside her office, the safe zone.
While LeDoux may not have credentials to counsel students, she said she is there to listen and there is a campus counselor available as well. LeDoux is continually compiling a list of community resources that can be of service to LGBT students, which includes the Inclusion Network and Someplace Safe.
Currently, ATCC does not have a LGBT club or support group.
"It's becoming much more important to have a presence on campus," LeDoux said. "Colleges are using being LGBT friendly as a recruiting tool."
Safe zone activity in colleges ranges from students prominently displaying stickers on their doors to less obvious support systems. LeDoux has heard of LGBT meetings being advertised in code in communities that are less tolerant of gay people.She has not seen or heard of any harassment of LGBT students at the ATCC campus.
LeDoux said once a train-the-trainer certification is offered in Morris she will pursue that certification and will be able to extend the program into the community beyond the college. The train-the-trainer course was cancelled last year due to low enrollment numbers.
Crystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.