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Safe Zone at UT

Safe Zone at UT is an educational workshop series focusing on:

  • Basic language and terminology related to gender and sexuality
  • Awareness and understanding of the intersections of gender, sexuality, and other social identities
  • Skills to intervene in situations of discrimination and injustice
  • Knowledge about LGBTQ+ resources available on UT’s campus.

Safe Zone is open to all current faculty, staff, and students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. At this time, we are unable to offer our sessions to the Knoxville community or non-UT affiliated organizations, groups, and departments.


The Safe Zone at UT program consists of three tiers, inspired by the Multicultural Competence Models proposed by Pederson (1994) and Pope, Reynolds, and Mueller (2019).

Tier 1 – Awareness consists of one 2 hour lecture/presentation. Tier 1 sessions launched in fall 2018.

After participating in Tier 1, session participants will be able to:

  • identify and articulate the purpose of Safe Zone at UT
  • identify gender and sexuality-related resources at UT
  • identify and apply basic language and terminology related to gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation

Tier 2 – Knowledge consists of one 2 hour presentation and includes small group discussion with case studies inspired by campus life. Tier 2 sessions launched in spring 2020.

After participating in Tier 2, session participants will be able to:

  • identify and apply terminology related to sex assigned at birth, gender expression, and gender identity in order to better serve the LGBTQ+ community
  • identify issues facing transgender and gender diverse communities
  • express greater confidence in their knowledge and support of transgender and gender diverse communities

Tier 3 – Skills consists of one 2 hour presentation consisting of 45 minutes of small group scenario-based roleplaying/acting inspired by campus life followed by a large group debrief discussion. There are no alternative activities to complete in lieu of the unscripted roleplaying/acting, as that is the point of the training. This session requires a camera and a microphone. If you are not able to have these items for your session, we encourage you to sign up at a later date when you are able to acquire them. Tier 3 sessions launched in fall 2021.

After participating in Tier 3, session participants will be able to:

  • advocate for LGBTQ+ populations by analyzing a situation and providing resolutions to issues based on sexual orientation and gender identity
  • express greater empathy and confidence in how to support LGBTQ+ populations on campus

The following sessions are open to any member of the UT campus community.

Please click the links listed below to register for the session via Zoom. You will automatically receive the log-in information. Authenticated users (@tennessee.edu) is REQUIRED for security purposes. Please refer to OIT’s “Getting Started on Zoom” page for more information on signing in as an authenticated user.

The following sessions are open to any member of the UT campus community.

Please click the links listed below to register for the session via Zoom. You will automatically receive the log-in information. Authenticated users (@tennessee.edu) is REQUIRED for security purposes. Please refer to OIT’s “Getting Started on Zoom” page for more information on signing in as an authenticated user.

The following sessions are open to any member of the UT campus community. Reminder: This session requires a camera and microphone. If you are not able to have these items for your session, we encourage you to sign up at a later date when you are able to acquire them. This session requires unscripted scenario-based roleplaying/acting in a safe, judgment-free environment to practice your advocacy skills. We do not offer alternative activities to the scenario-based roleplaying/acting.

Please click the links listed below to register for the session via Zoom. You will automatically receive the log-in information. Authenticated users (@tennessee.edu) is REQUIRED for security purposes. Please refer to OIT’s “Getting Started on Zoom” page for more information on signing in as an authenticated user.

After completing all three main tiers of Safe Zone at UT, participants automatically qualify for certification. Participants will contacted with their certification of completion and additional information during the month that they completed their final Tier 3 training.

Certifications of completion expire after four years and will require participants to attend additional follow-up trainings to remain engaged with best practices due to the evolving nature of language and terminology. We will have more information on the recertification process as it develops.

We are accepting requests for individual trainings for student organizations, campus units and departments, and other UT affiliated groups on a limited basis. Please contact us at pridecenter@utk.edu with more information about your request, including:

  • Your name, email and other relevant contact information
  • Your group size (approx. #)
  • Your preferred modality (we are currently only accepting virtual/Zoom sessions at the moment)
  • Your proposed dates and times (2 hour per tier). We are not able to shorten the length of any of the three sessions.
  • Any other relevant information for your request

Please submit your request at least four weeks ahead of your tentative dates. We ask that you first see if your group can attend any previously scheduled sessions prior to making your request. We may not be able to fulfill your request due to capacity, but we will make every effort to make it happen. Thanks for your interest, and we look forward to hearing from you soon.

  • Ciara Gazaway
  • Casey Darby
  • English Fields
  • Bonnie Johnson
  • Danielle Johnson
  • María Martínez
  • Leah Pendarvis
  • Sarah Rackley
  • Calantha Tillotson
  • Julianna Tullos

Join the Safe Zone Network!

We are currently working on relaunching the Safe Zone Network. Thanks for your patience!

The Safe Zone Network is a voluntary network of faculty, staff and students who believe that every member of the UT community should have an equal opportunity to grow, learn, and work at a safe and welcoming campus.

After completing all three tiers of training and passing the certification test, you will be asked to join the network. Once accepted, you will have your name publicly displayed in our directory as a resource for LGBTQ+ students. Remember: allyship and support is a continuous process. Once additional SZ programming becomes available, SZ network members will be expected to stay up to date.

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