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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Making A Safe Zone From A Red Zone

So, last night the Hillel here held a Safe Zone program. (Congrats to Josh Rabin for that, btw.) I think it was due time for that program, too. The Safe Zone Program deals with learning to make a place more accepting toward the LGBTQ community. I'm not saying that the Hillel here is a hotbed of anti-gay activity. However, I am saying that it was about time that the issue was addressed. We had a good turnout for it, about 60 people from ALL backgrounds. It was a short program, not everything that really needed to be addressed was able to be brought up. We could really do well with a follow-up program, to tie up the loose ends an whatnot.
Anyhow, one statement at the program really stuck out at me, filling with both disappointment and great hope. At the end, we discussed the current climate at Hillel and ways to improve it. One member spoke up and said "I thought I was going to say something that was really good about us, but I'm starting to think that's it's really not. I was going to talk about how we had this solid 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' thing going on here."
And that was disturbing. That was WHY we needed a Safe Zone program at Hillel. The fact that people aren't comfortable enough to come out in Hillel. This "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy indicates that people on both sides are fiercely uncomfortable with the acceptance climate at the Hillel here. The "Q Jews," as we've affectionately named ourselves, should not have to hide in the Hillel like some dirty secret. LGBTQ or not, we're Jews and we deserve the same love, respect, and openness that straight Jews enjoy.
However, as disturbing as the comment was, it was also a bit hopeful. At least he realized that what he thought was a good policy, wasn't. At least he realized something was wrong.

So, the short summary? We aren't there yet, but at least we're going to start trying.


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