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CCU Atheneum: Ashley Gaddy, director of Intercultural and Inclusion Services.
Ashley Gaddy, director of Intercultural and Inclusion Services.

The continuance of SafeZone trainings drive LGBTQ+ support and awareness at CCU

by Melanie Smith
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The values and principles within CCU’s Title IX statement can be seen being brought to life all over campus, specifically in Intercultural and Inclusion Student Services (IISS). The office, a restructuring of the previous Office of Multicultural Student Services, promotes awareness and solidarity within the LGBTQ+ community on campus through offering SafeZone trainings, a host of which are being held in the month of November.

The SafeZone program is based on the commitment of CCU faculty, staff and students to uphold the standard of valuing cultural diversity, in addition to addressing any needs of the LGBTQ+ community on campus. LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer.

The trainings are offered on two levels: The first provides information on LGBTQ+ issues, and the second focuses on transgender issues. Both trainings must be completed in order for a faculty or staff member to become designated as a SafeZone Ally. Once training is finished, SafeZone Allies serve as a visible resource within the community for those seeking assistance regarding sexual orientation, gender identity, harassment and/or discrimination.

The purpose of SafeZone trainings is to provide an environment for students and employees to freely thrive and flourish on an academic, professional and personal level within a space that promotes respect, dignity and acceptance. Through this forum, CCU conveys the message that sexual orientation and gender presentations are part of the campus culture and are acknowledged and supported under all circumstances.

The SafeZone program was started in 1989 by the Gay and Lesbian Urban Explorers (GLUE). Volunteers would hand out magnets with an inverted pink triangle, the symbol for “Act-Up,” surrounded by a green circle to symbolize universal acceptance. These magnets were displayed in offices to indicate support for the LGBTQ+ community, as well as designating the space free of homophobia and later transphobia.

The program came to CCU in 2010, launched by student, faculty and staff members Laura Arroyo, Jennie Cassidy, Regina Curran, Tyger Glauser, Bob Jenkot, Kelly Kohlmann, Barbara Ritter and Pat Singleton-Young.

Director of Intercultural and Inclusion Services Ashley Gaddy and Assistant Director of Intercultural and Inclusion Services Franklin Ellis are responsible for SafeZone trainings. Gaddy joined the CCU family in July, and she is excited to continue the training.

“We are proud of Coastal Carolina University’s culturally diverse population and support cultural diversity in every way possible,” Gaddy said.

Ellis took on the role as the chairperson for the SafeZone planning committee three years ago, coordinating all aspects of the program from scheduling the trainings, updating the website and ally roster, developing new trainings, updating information in the trainings, and leading training sessions. The presence and development of SafeZone hits home for Ellis, a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

“When I see students, faculty and staff displaying their stickers and coming to the training, it shows that they care about me as (an) individual and how I am treated on this campus,” Ellis said. “It makes me feel and know that I matter.”

The importance of the trainings stems from the University’s goal to cultivate a climate of inclusivity. Gaddy believes that once everyone is doing inclusion work, the environment on campus can begin to shift. As faculty and staff teach and serve students who identify in the LGBTQ+ community daily, inclusivity becomes necessary for support, as well.

“It is important to know the history of this community and challenges they’ve faced. Once this is understood better, both faculty and staff can find the best ways to support students,” Gaddy said.

To register for the trainings, visit and choose the corresponding month of the SafeZone training you would like to register for. For any questions, contact a member of the Safe Zone planning committee:


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