How to Create a Safe Campus

Be Prepared

If you establish a safe and supportive environment, people who you never thought of will begin to share their personal lives and come out in varying degrees. 

Suggestions for Creating an Inclusive Campus Environment

Adapted from Buhrke & Douce, 1991

  • Object to and eliminate jokes and humor that put down or portray lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in stereotypical ways.

  • Counter statements about sexual orientation or gender identity that are not relevant to decisions or evaluations being made about faculty, staff, or students.

  • Invite "out" professionals to conduct seminars and provide guest lectures in your classes and offices. Invite them for LGBT topics and other topics of their expertise.

  • Do not force LGBT people out of the closet or come out for them to others. The process of coming out is one of enlarging a series of concentric circles and is very individual. Initially the process should be in control of the individual until (and if) they consider it public knowledge.

  • Don't include sexual orientation or gender identity information in letters of reference or answer specific or implied questions without first clarifying how "out" the person chooses to be in the specific process in question. Because your environment may be safe, it does not mean all environments are safe.

  • Recruit and hire "out' LGBT staff and faculty.

  • View LGBT identity as a positive form of diversity that is desired in a multicultural setting. Acknowledge that LGBT individuals hold many other identities that may compound their marginalization as an LGBT individual. 

  • Always question job applicants about their ability to work with LGBT faculty, staff, and students.

  • Do not refer all LGBT issues to LGBT staff/faculty. Do not assume their only expertise is LGBT issues. Check with staff about their willingness to consult on LGBT issues with other staff members.

  • Be sensitive to issues of oppression and appreciate the strength and struggle it takes to establish a positive LGBT identity. Provide nurturing support to colleagues and students in phases of this process.

  • Be prepared. If you truly establish a safe and supportive environment, people that you never thought of will begin to share their personal lives and come out in varying degrees. 

  • View the creation of this environment as a departmental or agency responsibility, not the responsibility of individual persons who happen to be LGBT. Always waiting for them to speak, challenge, or act, adds an extra level of responsibility to someone who is already dealing with oppression on many levels.