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Safe Zone

A Safe Zone is a place where students can talk to an adult in a non-judgmental environment, receive support, and get connected to the resources they need to succeed.

What is Safe Zone?

A Safe Zone is a place where students can talk to an adult in a non-judgmental environment, receive support, and get connected to the resources they need to succeed. The Albuquerque Public Schools Safe Zone program was designed to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ+) students and their allies but is available to all students in APS.

LGBTQ+ students face many barriers that can prevent them from feeling safe within their school environment including verbal and physical harassment and bullying. These students are at increased risk of homelessness and self-destructive behaviors which often result in attendance issues and higher drop-out rates.

Safe Zones operate at all levels across the district. Every school designates at least one staff member as a "safe adult" that students can go to if they need to report harassment and need help. Safe Zone Volunteers identify their office or classroom by hanging a SAFE ZONE sign or wearing a Safe Zone lanyard. Safe Zone Volunteers may be identified virtually by the use of the Safe Zone Flag emblem in their Google classroom or electronic communications.

Safe Zone Volunteers attend 1-2 district meetings per year for professional development, resource sharing, and networking. Safe Zone Volunteers and other school staff may also choose to sponsor Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs, support groups or lunch groups to create safe spaces for students.  

                  Rainbow flag

Safe Zones at APS Transcript

00:03 Hi my name is Rose and I use all pronouns.
00:07 Hi my name is Ava and I use she/they pronouns.
00:12 Hi my name is Lorena Madrid-Larranaga and I’m a high school student from Albuquerque
00:16 High School and I use she/her pronouns.
00:18 I’m a high school student from Albuquerque High School from PAUSE. And I use she/her pronouns.
00:23 This is an APS Safe Zone.
00:27 What is a Safe Zone?
00:29 About half the students we talked to have never heard of a Safe Zone. Of those who have
00:34 heard of Safe Zone about half couldn’t describe it.
00:37 What is a Safe Zone?
00:39 An APS safe zone is a place where all students, regardless of gender or sexuality, can go
00:45 for trained, non-judgmental, teachers or staff support and resources at their school whether
00:50 they are at an elementary, middle or high school, said a high school student.
00:55 A Safe Zone is a space for LGBTQ+ members to feel safe and welcome in their environment.
01:02 I definitely, definitely think that there’s a need to have Safe Zones at every level.
01:07 Because every level of schooling needs to accept students or needs to have a place where
01:11 students can feel accepted for who they are.
01:14 How do you feel when you’re in a Safe Zone?
01:17 Everyone is supposed to feel safe and comfortable, said a middle school student.
01:20 You feel free to talk and let out things that you would usually won't let out, maybe to
01:26 a group of people or to one on one . A place where you are surrounded by people
01:31 that you trust/care about.
01:33 For a room to be a Safe Zone, teachers or staff must attend a training. What does the
01:39 training involve?
01:40 Hi, my name is Angela Ruiz. I use she/her pronouns and I work for the Student Health
01:46 and LIfe Skills Department. Our department oversees Safe Zone training for all of APS
01:50staff. Any s taff member can be a Safe Zone representative, a bus driver, cafeteria worker,
01:56 educational assistant, administration, teachers and even district staff. The training includes
02:01 every day inclusion techniques to support our LGBTQ+ students and train staff how to
02:06 be an ally. Once someone completes the training and signs the contract, they receive their
02:11Safe  Zone lanyard and sign. And they’re now a trained Safe Zone representative.
02:15 What are some responsibilities of a Safe Zone representative?
02:20 Be non-judgmental
02:22 Provide resources
02:24 Provide support to any person
02:25 Be informative
02:28 Be there when a students seeks support
02:31 Listen and be respectful
02:33 Not share anything a student tells them unless in danger or dangerous
02:38 Why did you decide to become a Safe Zone representative?
02:41 Hi, I’m Savannah Esquibel. I’m the k through 5 gifted and enrichment teacher here at Governor
02:46 Bent Elementary School and my pronouns are she and her. So I wanted to be a Safe Zone
02:54 representative because I think it’s very important to be there for our students un,
03:00 no matter what. And uh, last year I , I wasn’t officially a Safe Zone representative but
03:07 I did consider myself a Safe Zone because I had students come to me whenever they needed
03:12 help with anything. They felt very comfortable with me which made me really happy because
03:17 they were they felt safe. And so when the opportunity was presented to become a Safe
03:22 Zone representative officially. I was like absolutely yes. Um, I think it’s important
03:28 for our kids to have a safe place to go to talk about anything and everything. And have
03:35 that person there for them um, to either to get them some help with what they need or
03:42 just to be there to lend a listening ear.
03:46 Why is it important to have Safe Zones in our schools?
03:49 It is important because no matter who you are, and how alone you feel, how much an outcast
03:55 you feel, there’s always someone there for you. Someone who is supportive.
03:59 The LGTBQ community needs a place where they can come out and just be open with themselves.
04:06 I like the Safe Zone because it lets people express themselves.
04:12 Why is it helpful for teachers and staff to have a Safe Zones in schools?
04:16 I think it’s important and helpful for people because um, especially if there’s students
04:23 who who don’t feel safe and they don’t feel like they have that um, to unquestionably
04:28 have that ,to clearly and unquestionably have that. That’s just a feeling of safety and
04:33 security or a reduction in anxiety. I think that’s really important for those kids.
04:38 As a Safe Zone educator, how can you guarantee students won’t get bullied for attending
04:42 a Safe Zone? How do you protect the students?
04:45 Uh, that’s really really easy. I explain uh, during the first week of school exactly
04:51 what it means uh, that my classroom is a Safe Zone. I explain why my classroom is a Safe
04:56 Zone. I tell the story of my brother and my nephew. And i expressly tell students that
05:03 it will not be tolerated uh, for them to use any demeaning terms for them to use any demeaning
05:10 motions anything at all. that every single person in my classroom is safe no matter what.
05:16 And that every single person is going to be accepted and treated with respect.
05:22 Where can I find a Safe Zone?
05:25 Look for the sign, lanyard or on the staff member’s google profile picture.
05:34 Anyone who wants to find out more information about Safe Zones can ask one of the representatives
05:39 at their school or can visit the APS website under Student Health and Life Skills.
05:48 Here are some additional resources.

Resources

             LGBTQ+ resource numbers and websites

Safe Zone Contact information
Employee                                                               Contact Information
Laura Morris                                                               (505) 880-3721
Resource Teacher, zones 1&3                       laura.morris@aps.edu
 
Angela Ruiz                                                                 (505) 880-3789
Resource Teacher, zones 2&4                             

The Trevor Project

The leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ+ people ages 13-24.

Website: The Trevor Project

PFLAG Albuquerque

Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) has an Albuquerque chapter dedicated to empowering LGBTQ+ persons -- and those who love them.

Website: PFLAG Albuquerque Chapter

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC)

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national LGBTQ+ civil rights organization.

Website: The Human Rights Campaign

Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)

GLSEN works to ensure that LGBTQ+ students are able to learn and grow in a school environment free from bullying and harassment. 

Website: Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network

GLSEN National School Climate Survey

Report on the school experiences of LGBTQ+ youth in schools, including the extent of the challenges that they face at school and the school-based resources that support LGBTQ+ students’ well-being. 

Read the GLSEN National School Climate Survey

Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico

Dedicated to serving the transgender community of the State of New Mexico by providing personal support, education, and resource information. 

Contact: Adrien Lawyer at (505) 440-3402.

Website: Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico