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Conference organizer  Anzio Jacobs is completing a semester-long internship at SDSU working with the SafeZones@SDSU program. Conference organizer Anzio Jacobs is completing a semester-long internship at SDSU working with the SafeZones@SDSU program.
 


Global Compassion

A unique conference will foster dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity worldwide.
By
 

San Diego State University's SafeZones@SDSU — a coalition that works to ensure a campus atmosphere that is welcoming, educational and safe for all sexual orientations and gender identities — is reaching out to provide a safe haven for the at-risk community.

Bringing together a diverse group of activists and scholars from the United States and South Africa, SafeZones@SDSU will host a Skype conference on April 16 that aims to facilitate discussions across borders that divide the sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), or what is commonly referred to as the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and ally (LGBTQIA) community.

One of the main organizers of the conference is Anzio Jacobs from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Jacobs is completing a semester-long internship at SDSU working with the SafeZones@SDSU program as well as many other LGBTQ programs and organizations on campus. 

The conference, “Intersectionality and Advocacy in SOGI and LGBTQIA Communities," will feature a series of small panels of activists and academics from SDSU and the University of Witwatersrand.

"We hope that by examining the intersectional nature of identities and communities, including the interlocking oppressions and systems of privilege embedded in them, we will better understand our differences as well as what unites us," said Mary Kelly, director of the LGBT Resource and Program Development for the College of Arts and Letters.

How it started

Jacobs became acquainted with SafeZones@SDSU when Kelly co-led SDSU’s study abroad South Africa program in 2011.

At that time students and faculty from SDSU met with SOGI/LGBTQIA activists and scholars from the University of the Witwatersrand and GALA (Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action) to learn about the SOGI rights movement in South Africa and to share strategies for creating safe spaces.

Inspired by the SafeZones program at SDSU, Jacobs and his colleagues started SafeZones@Wits in 2012, the first documented program of its kind on the African continent.

“It was a dream come true," he said. “The University of Witwatersrand has adapted the training manual and educated trainers to create allies, and is continuing the work it set out to when the Wits Pride board adopted it as a legacy project."

Jacobs sees the upcoming conference as an opportunity to further develop programming and support for SafeZones worldwide.

"My hope is to gain insight into what makes SafeZones@SDSU work. I hope that it will serve as the cornerstone to a manual for starting SafeZones in other parts of the world."

Jacobs is also in the process of creating an international map of SafeZones located around the globe. “The goal is that the map will provide people with a tool which they can use to identify safe spaces, by using an application compatible with our everyday technological devices,” he said.

More information

The event runs from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on April 16 in Student Life and Leadership's conference room on the second floor of the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union. It is free and open to the public. 

Visit the event Facebook page to engage with conference panelists.