Matthew Barcus, program manager for LGBTQ plus education and support, said it is important that GU incorporates LGBTQ plus cultural competency into classroom curriculum.

The Lincoln LGBTQ plus Resource Center is offering training sessions for faculty and staff to earn their Sexuality and Gender Equity (SAGE) certification, which is a continuation of training that has been done at GU for the past few years centered around LGBTQ plus cultural competency.

Formerly called "Safe Zone" or "Safe Space" training, this new training has been updated to fit the current cultural climate of not only GU, but of modern society. 

The certification is completed in two sessions. SAGE 1 focuses on terminology and developing an understanding to becoming a supportive ally. Building off of that knowledge, SAGE 2 focuses on implementing this understanding to effectively take action.

“How do we develop informed empathy so that we can relate to people who might have different experiences than us,” said Matthew Barcus, program manager for LGBTQ plus Education and Support. “And how do we create proactive inclusion, as well as interrupt when biased instances occur?”

Once training is completed, members can elect to participate in SAGE spotlights. While not required, these serve as a deeper exploration into specific relevant topics, such as how gender is being viewed and explored now compared to past generations. These are meant to act as additional learning opportunities.

For Rebecca Bull Schaefer, an associate professor of management in the School of Business Administration, signing up for training was a no-brainer. She had undergone safe space training in 2010, and felt it was important to stay up to date.

“I always make the joke that for the doors that don't have the safe space [sticker], those are the doors we shouldn't be knocking on,” Bull Schaefer said.

Karlene Hoo, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, shared Bull Schaefer’s enthusiasm for getting updated training.

Not only did Hoo contact Barcus for more training, she also emailed other faculty and staff, inviting them to partake in these sessions. 

They all emphasized how receiving this kind of training is vital to their jobs since it entails forming relationships with their students. 

“We want to be reaching students where they're at, and we want to be connecting with those lived experiences,” Barcus said. “So we can't just assume that people who come to our classrooms check their identity at the classroom door. They're bringing their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression into the classroom. We need to be competent, and affirming, supporting and incorporating that into the curriculum.”

Hoo echoed this sentiment and explained how this information plays a role not only in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, but with others in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field.

“It helps us to understand a student or the staff or the faculty through a different lens, not just the one that says we are engineers, we are computer scientists—we are more than that,” Hoo said. “I think it raises the awareness that there are many different lenses that we can look through. The training pushes us to recognize those lenses and to be respectful of them.”

Bull Schaefer teaches topics such as human resources and employment law, which are certain professional fields that have a strong connection with what is taught in the SAGE certification. She particularly specializes in teaching future supervisors and managers to foster inclusive climates in their workplace.

“Our employees are our most precious investment, because they're the partners that help us get our mission done,” Bull Schaefer said. “So to be able to learn about what our current members and partners are going through, their experiences as they've grown up or their experiences in the professional world, is really important.”

As more faculty and staff sign up for training on topics of sexuality and gender, this type of training is not only becoming more common, but expected.

Hoo called for normalizing the training like other standard procedures at a university such as requiring students to abide by a syllabus or routine job training.

“If there was a policy that says this is not an invitation anymore, this is a requirement, I think it would make a stronger statement,” Hoo said. “And then after a while, the requirement can go away, because it's natural.”

For more information about the SAGE certification and related topics, Zags can visit the “Upcoming Programs” tab on The Lincoln Center’s website.

Marissa Conter is a staff writer. Follow her on Twitter: @marissaconter.