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Safe Zone

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General Information

Contact Information
Safe Zone
Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd. S.
Howard Hall 228
Fort Myers, Florida 33965-6565 

Phone: 590-7950



Note: The following definitions are short working definitions to create a basic understanding of LGBT issues and concerns. You are encouraged to seek additional information for a better understanding of the many aspects of each term.


Advocate: A person who actively works to end intolerance, educates others, and supports LGBT issues, concerns, equal rights legislation, etc.

Ally: A heterosexual or LGBT person who supports LGBT people.

Bisexual: A person who is emotionally, physically, spiritually, and sexually attracted to members of more than one gender. Also can be referred to as omnisexual and pansexual.

Biological Sex: A binary system (male/female) set by the medical establishment, usually based on reproductive organs. See Intersexed.

Closeted: One who has not "come out of the closet" or who has come out to only a few people. One who may not be comfortable enough with their own sexuality to share it with others.

Coming Out: The life-long process of discovering, defining, and proclaiming ones (non-heterosexual) sexuality.

Cross Dressing: The act of wearing the clothing of the "opposite" sex for performance, sexual encounters, or comfort. Generally, the term cross dresser is preferred to transvestite. See Transvestite.

Drag: Queen, a person who consciously performs femininity, sometimes in an exaggerated/theatrical manner, usually in a show or theatre setting; King, a person who consciously performs masculinity, sometimes in an exaggerated/theatrical manner, usually in a show or theatre setting.

Dyke: Derogatory slang terms used to identify lesbians. This term has been embraced and reinvented as a positive, proud, political identifier when used by lesbians among and about themselves. See:
faggot, queer.

Faggot: Derogatory slang used to identify gay men, which has been embraced and reclaimed as a positive, proud, political identifier when used by gay men among and about themselves. See dyke, queer.

Gay: Usually, but not always, refers to homosexual men. Also used as an umbrella term for the LGBT community.

Gender Identity: How a person perceives and what they call themselves; may or may not agree with societal gender roles outlines for their sex; typically masculine/feminine. Coincides with what doctors and/or society have prescribed for that person or can also refer to a multitude of expression like femme, boy, faggot, leather, androgynous, leather, etc.

Genderqueer: Any LGBT person whose gender presentation is an intentional mixture of gender signifiers, usually a political identity in support of transgender persons and against the binary gender system.

Gender Role: The societal and cultural expects of people based upon their biological sex.

Hate Motivated Offenses: Assault, rape, arson, and murder are crimes under any circumstance, but when a victim of such a crime was targeted simply because of their affiliation (or perceived affiliation) with a minority group, the FBI considers the crime a 'hate crime.' In some states, hate crimes carry an additional penalty beyond the standard penalty for assault, murder, etc. Also known as "gay-bashing", acts of intolerance, or hate crimes.

Heterosexual: A person who has emotional, physical, spiritual, and sexual attractions to persons of the "opposite sex". The sexuality that dominant discourse prescribes.

Heterosexual Privilege: Advantages that come with heterosexuality in this society and culture; i.e.:> Marriage and all the benefits that go along with it, acceptance from family, safety, and acceptance in their chosen career field.

Heterosexism: The belief that all people are heterosexual, the assumption and/or belief that heterosexual relationships and behavior are superior, and the actions based on this assumption.

Homosexual: A person who has emotional, physical, spiritual, and sexual attraction to persons of the "same sex". More of a medical term, it is considered an outdated term when referring to gay people or communities.

Homophobia: Fear, anger, discomfort, intolerance, or lack of acceptance toward LGBT people, or experiencing these feelings about one's own non-heterosexual preference.

Human Sexual Response: Behaviors, thoughts, dreams, fantasies; not just behavior.

Intersexed: People born with "unexpected" genitals. Formerly referred to hermaphrodites, intersexed people are not easily categorized as male or female because of ambiguous genitals. Most intersexed people do not possess "both" sets of genitals, rather a blending or a different appearance that is medically unacceptable to most doctors. Intersexuality is fairly common. Many who identify as intersexed believe that early childhood surgical intervention is not only unnecessary but cruel and advocate counseling and support for children and families.

Lavender: This association goes back into ancient times and has been strengthened by the fact that lavender, or purple, is the combination of red (pink) and blue, the traditional gender-identified colors.

Lesbian: A woman who has emotional, physical, spiritual, and sexual attractions to other women.

Lifestyle: How a person chooses to live and behave. Being LGBT is not a choice, and therefore is not considered a lifestyle (ie: yuppie, vegan, hobbies, rural/urban, etc.).

Normal: Can refer to what is statistically more common, but is often confused by heterosexuals to refer to whatever it is that they condone morally. Only the individual can decide what is normal for them and it need not be what is normal to others.

Outing: To declare a person's identity publicly; people can out themselves, or someone can out them either with or without their permission.

Pride: Not being ashamed of oneself and/or showing your pride to others by coming out, marching, etc. Being honest and comfortable.

Rainbow Flag: In 1978, San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker designed a flag for the city's Gay Freedom celebration and LGBT movements worldwide have since adopted it as a symbol of gay identity and pride. It has six stripes in the traditional form, but can be seen as streamers, etc, which run in the order of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple. The flag also symbolizes diversity within unity.

Questioning: The process of exploring one's on sexual identity, including but not limited to one's upbringing, expectations from others (family, friends, church, etc.), and inner motivation.

Queer: Derogatory slang terms used to identify LGBT people. This term has been embraced and reinvented as a positive, proud, political identifier when used by LGBT people among and about themselves. See dyke, faggot.

Sexual Orientation: To whom a person is erotically attracted. Not to be confused with sexual preference: What a person likes to do sexually.

Stonewall: On June 28, 1969, NYC police attempted a routine raid on the Stonewall Inn, a working class gay and lesbian bar in Greenwich Village. Unexpectedly, the patrons resisted, and the incident escalated into a riot that continued for several days. Most people look to this event as the beginning of the American Gay Liberation movement and all subsequent LGBT movements.

Transgender: An umbrella term for people who transgress society's view of gender and biological sex as necessarily fixed, unmoving, and following from one's biological sex. They view gender on a spectrum, rather than a polarized, either/or construct. This can range from identification to cross dressing, to undergoing hormone therapy, to sex reassignment surgery and/or to other forms of dress/presentation. Transgender people can include transsexuals, cross-dressers, drag kings/queens, masculine women, feminine men, and all those who defy what society tells them is appropriate for their "gender". Political trans activists seek to create more space around gender, and to create a space and a society where the choice of gender expression/presentation is safe, sane, and consensual.

Transsexual: A person whose core gender identity is "opposite" their assigned sex. Transsexuals may live as the opposite sex, undergo hormone therapy, and/or have sex reassignment surgery to "match" their bodies with their gender identity.

Transvestite: A person who cross-dresses for erotic pleasure or relaxation.

Triangle: Pink Triangle: This was a symbol used by the Nazi's to label gay men in the concentration camps. It has since been adopted as a symbol of identity and pride. Black Triangle:This was a symbol used by the Nazi's to label lesbians and other women deemed 'antisocial' in the concentration camps. It has since been adopted as a symbol of identity and pride.



Florida State University's Campus SafeZones web page:

Ohio University's Office of LGBT Programs Staff Members

Plymouth State College's Task Force Against Homophobia SafeZone handout

Virginia Association of College and University Housing Officers (VACUHO) SafeZone Project handout