Advice

Becoming a SafeZones Certificate of Completion Facilitator

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By: Shannon D., Pride@NU President & Caroline B., Pride@NU SafeZones Facilitator

Question 1: What inspired you to obtain a SafeZones certificate of completion?

Shannon:
As a lesbian, I grew up in spaces that were severely lacking regarding experiences I was facing. I had teachers that made insensitive comments, doctors that were often baffled when I explained my lack of need for birth control, and colleagues that would often ask intrusive questions about my personal life under the guise of wanting to educate themselves. I am in the Masters of Education program at National University pursuing a Multiple Subject Credential so that I can help create more inclusive and safe spaces for children where they truly feel loved and supported just as they are.

While I have my own experiences and those of people close to me to draw from, I am always looking for opportunities to learn more and find new ways to best support my future students. When I was researching the different activities at NU and came across Pride, and more specifically, SafeZones, I was ecstatic.

Caroline:
The SafeZones training stood out to me as a way that I could be a better ally to my LGBTQ+ friends, family, and the community as a whole. I am someone who really seeks out continuous growth and learning. I always want to make sure I am striving to be a better person and in that, contribute more to the community around me. Inclusivity, equity, and equality are issues that are really close to my heart, and amazing trainings like SafeZones are the first steps we can make as a community to addressing those issues.

At the educational institution where I work, we have a similar training program called Safe Space. When I first started working, I was excited to find out that my employer not only offered a training like this, but encouraged employees to participate. I felt the same way when finding out about the SafeZones certificate at National University! Just because I took a similar training somewhere else doesn’t mean I’ve learned all I’ve needed to. SafeZones allowed me to challenge myself to learn more so I could ensure I was best serving the LGBTQ+ community as an ally. By challenging myself to continuously learn and grow I am ensuring I am making an inclusive space, not only for my LGBTQ+ friends and family, but also for my colleagues, the students where I work, my fellow classmates at NU, and any sphere of influence I can touch.

Question 2: What was one of your takeaways from the training?

Pride President, Shannon D.

Shannon:
One of my biggest takeaways from the training is how every training is different, and entirely depends on what the participants bring to the table. Even as a facilitator, I learn something new in every training from one of the participants. The most important thing to remember about the SafeZones Certificate of Completion is that it is not an entirely comprehensive training, and there is always more to add and change. One thing that I learned from one of my participants who was a biology major, was more information about people that are intersex, and how to better include the experiences of these individuals in the training! I also love hearing about different vocabulary words that people feel should be added to the “core vocabulary” section. For example, the first time I took the training, I noticed the words homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia, were all listed, but lesbophobia was not. This is something that stood out to me because of how specific the experiences of the lesbian community can be, and how important it is to remember the specific experience of lesbophobia and not to lump it in with homophobia.

Caroline:
Continuous learning every time you’re in the training is one of my key takeaways, and also something I’ve heard from many other people who’ve taken the training. I’ve been in several trainings now, a couple as a learner and a couple as a facilitator. Each time I learn something new – even as a facilitator. The human, collaborative component of the training adds a factor that could never be addressed by an asynchronous training alone. Each perspective in the room allows you to open your eyes, view a topic differently, and expand your knowledge and understandings of the way others experience and view the world.

In addition, the SafeZones training introduces something called a Genderbread Person. I won’t go into too many details (take the training to find out more! 😊), but the Genderbread Person allows you to break down elements of what you have learned while applying them together in a cohesive concept. When I first took the training, there were concepts I thought I understood that just instantly clicked during this segment of the training.

Caroline B., SafeZones facilitator.


Question 3: What inspired you to go above and beyond and become a facilitator?

Shannon:
Not only did I jump at the chance to obtain a Certificate of Completion myself, but I was so appreciative of everything I learned in the training, that I wanted to share it with others. Additionally, as a future educator, one of my primary goals is to help create more inclusive spaces for children. Therefore, I wanted to become a facilitator in order to train other future educators and help the future LGBTQ+ students in their classes feel more supported by their teachers. In every one of my classes, I always share information for the next upcoming SafeZones Certificate of Completion training so that I can spread the word to as many future educators as possible. I have had several classmates complete the training and they have all said how happy they were to have the experience. I choose to believe that every educator genuinely wants to make a difference in the lives of their students, and be as supportive as possible for them.

Caroline:
When I heard that becoming a facilitator for the SafeZones training was something I could do, I was so excited and instantly jumped at the opportunity. I think I actually heard about the SafeZones training for the first time through information about becoming a facilitator for those who were already certified. I had not even taken the training yet and I instantly knew this was something I wanted to do.


Question 4: Who do you think should become SafeZones certified?

Shannon:
The SafeZones Certificate of Completion is a great tool for everyone because no matter your level of understanding, or your own connection to the LGBTQ+ community, you will always learn something new. Two groups of people that I try to recommend this training to the most are educators and health care professionals. Obtaining a SafeZones Certificate of Completion is taking a step into a lifelong journey of being a more inclusive and supportive person.

Caroline:
Anyone and everyone! There is honestly not a single person that I do not think would benefit from becoming SafeZones certified. And more importantly than that, I hope that one day each and every person will not only have participated in something like SafeZones, but that this type of training will be a normal aspect of everyday learning, incorporated in our educational platforms as we grow up in the world.

In essence, all people should take this training! If you’re passionate about inclusivity and equity – this training is for you. If you’re brand new and have no knowledge of the LGBTQ+ community – this training is for you. If you want to be a better ally to the community – this training is for you. If you think you know all you need to know – this training is for you!


How to Celebrate Pride Month with PRIDE @ NU

Monthly Meetings: First Wednesday of every month at 5:30 PM! Zoom link: tinyurl.com/pridenuzoom

SafeZones Trainings: Usually the second Wednesday of every month at 5:30 p.m.

Next trainings: Wednesday, June 30th at 6 pm (sign up here) and Wednesday July 14 at 5:30 pm. (Sign up here).

Join us at Pride@NU’s BIPOC Celebration Event on Tuesday, June 22 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Join students and alumni as they celebrate BIPOC diversity in the LGBTQIA+ community. Panelists will answer questions about their experiences, and then we will open the floor to questions, answers, and discussion. Register here.

Advice

May is Military Appreciation Month

By: Kelsey Kennedy, US Veteran-Navy; Vice President, OmegaNU; BS, Public Health (anticipated ’21)

As a military veteran and now, military spouse, just like many areas of the world and careers, nothing is perfect. However, one of the most important factors in our armed forces is camaraderie. Knowing that your fellow service member is by your side, you have a new meaning of family. Most often, you are stationed far from loved ones and build this new circle who justifies that blood does not determine a family.


I was stationed at Camp Pendleton as a gas turbine mechanic, and when I entered this field, it was male dominant. Women in the engineering field, whether in the military or out, must work twice as hard to prove themselves. Often, I felt overworked and underappreciated. At first it really hit my self-esteem and self-worth, as I did not think I was good enough. I felt as though my time was just being thrown aside and that I did not matter. That was until I met a Senior Chief at my command who became my supervisor, and she changed my view. She had shown me that I am who I am and that the right people will appreciate me and to keep doing what I believe in.

I met my husband on active duty, and he is still active. Between our joint experiences, we have experienced being a dual active-duty couple and having children. This usually results in the child/ren being without one or both parents because of mission requirements. There have often been times that our shifts were opposite, and we never got to see each other. Being flexible and knowing how to handle what comes to you is part of what you sign up for. 

Being in the military not only helped me mature and become who I am today, but it had allowed me to find my strength. It guided me to the love of my life and provided a network that I could never have imagined. With the constant mission preparation and requirements, and understanding the different areas that my role had to fill, I learned how to manage my time appropriately to make sure these missions were completed.

The military is it’s own culture; there are twists and turns to every story. In the end, I wouldn’t change it for the world as it continually made me stronger and made me appreciate life. 

Join us for several events about military experiences:

Celebrating Families Student Panel Event: Thursday, May 13 at 5:30-6:30 p.m. PDT Register here. Join Mind and Body Wellness, Educators United, Pride@NU as we celebrate families. We will discuss stress management and self care for a diverse array of families, including military families, student-parents, single parents, LGBTQIA parents, and caregivers of children with autism. 

Military Appreciation Student Panel Event: Monday, May 17, 2021 5:30-6:30 p.m. PDT. Join Omega NU and the National University Student Veteran Organization for an event focused on military appreciation and remembrance. Panelists will provide their experiences about military lifestyles, navigating education, and how the military has impacted their lives. Register here.

Advice

April is Mental Health Awareness Month: We Focus on The Military Child

By Tania Bogart, President, Educators United (email nu.educatorsunited@gmail.com; meetings are second Wednesday of the month.) Next meeting: Wednesday, May 12 from 5:30-6:15 p.m. Topic: Anti-racism. Join via zoom:  https://nu.zoom.us/j/93750115064

I got a phone call from my children’s school one morning, asking me to pick up my 6-year-old son because he had an anger outburst at school. He was screaming, kicking the desk, and trying to flee the classroom. From the teacher’s perspective, the cause of the outburst seemed to stem from a crayon being broken, and this behavior was highly irregular. Only adding to the confusion was that it was my twin boys’ birthday that day. Once we had signed out and were walking back to the car in silence, I asked him how he was feeling. He immediately broke down in tears and said, “Why did daddy have to go to Japan?” My heart shattered in that moment.

My husband had left for Japan the day before. While this is nothing new for me, having experienced four deployments and countless weeks where my husband has been on travel, this was entirely new for our young children, who had only experienced his absence at an age that they would not remember. Adults are capable of handling their emotions (for the most part.)

As military spouses, we are the ones that pick up the pieces when our spouse deploys, taking full responsibility of both parental roles, the home, work and school commitments, and the needs of our children. The emotional burden is at times overwhelming, especially when you see how it impacts your child, and absolutely nothing you can say or do will give them the comfort that their deployed parent would.

Tania and Alexander, holding their twins

I cannot put into words how difficult it is be a pseudo-single parent, when you normally have the support of your spouse every day. The tears that well up when your child realizes that their parent won’t be there to celebrate a birthday or attend their sporting events, or their inability to sleep at night for fear that something will happen to their parent. This complex life adds tremendous stress to our military children.

There is so much that we can learn as a support role in the field of education and positively impact our students. April was dedicated as the month of the military child, and it deserves to be celebrated. There are so many ways that we can support these resilient children, many ways that we can learn and grow as educators.

Tania and her family.

We invite all National University students that are entering the field of education to join our student organization.

Educator Resources for Military Families

  • April 15 -Wear purple on Purple Up Day – Wearing purple is a visible way for everyone to show support and thank military youth for their strength and sacrifices.
  • USO San Diego has established many programs designed for military children to connect with each other and thrive in their surrounding community. Please check out their website for valuable events and resources.  MilKid Club • USO San Diego
  • ACSD.org has amazing educator resources for supporting your military family students. Please take a look at all the great information they have here: Resources for Supporting Military Students (ascd.org)
  • Veteran Center @ NU- As a National University student and military spouse, I have found the Veteran’s Center an incredible resource both virtually, and in person. Please check out their webpage here: Veteran Center | National University (nu.edu)