Ethan Moore, left, a freshman social work major from Holdrege, and Aranea Push, right, a senior graphic design major from Kearney sell T-shirts outside of the Ponderosa Room. Students gathered in the Ponderosa Room last Wednesday for the Pink Triangle Training to listen to Dr. Matthew Mims, a counselor, school psychologist and assistant professor at UNK, talk about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues on campus and in the community.
Bullying as a result of sexual preference was among the primary topics covered Nov. 3 at the Pink Triangle Safe Zone Training, a two-hour event sponsored by the Queer Straight Alliance and put on by Dr. Matthew Mims, assistant professor of counseling and school psychology.
Mims is the advisor for the QSA and has organized Pink Triangle Safety Training for four years with the purpose to educate and provide care and support.
Mims spoke about the recent tragedy at Rutgers University in New Jersey where college freshman Tyler Clementi killed himself after being “outted” online.
During a roundtable discussion after Mims’ presentation about the situation with the Rutgers students, Mims asked each table to talk with each other about what the bullying was like in their high schools and discuss whether people were bullied based on sexual preference.
Ashley Schmitz a sophomore nursing major from Doniphan said, “We had a couple of students who were gay, but the community was so small and close that no one thought it was a big deal. We all kind of teased each other, not bullied.”
Safe Zone Training promotes a message of understanding and encourages a campus culture that is safe. The program stresses that you do not have to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning to be a part of the safe zone program. There are also allies, people who are simply honoring other people as basic human beings.
Being an ally is an option to all students, faculty and staff who are committed to making UNK a safe and tolerant environment for everyone, no matter their sexual orientation.
Thea Baum, a senior premed major from Norfolk said, “Before I came to the training, I did not understand the importance allies played in the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people,” Baum said. “They really need the extra support of people who are open-minded and unprejudiced of people’s differences.”
At the end of the training program, each person was asked if they felt comfortable to sign the Safe Zone Agreement. The agreement stated: “As a Safe Space Ally, I pledge to support the mission of the Safe Zone program of QSA at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.”
Underneath the pledge, was the mission that read: “The purpose of the Safe Zone program is to reduce homophobia and heterosexism on the UNK campus by creating and encouraging, safe and secure environments for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning and Ally (LGBTQA) students, faculty and staff.”
Upon exiting, participants were able to sign a poster showing their support and were able to receive the Pink Triangle Safety Zone sticker to post on their door, showing that they are supporters of the QSA and the Safe Zone project.