All students, faculty and staff deserve to learn in an environment that’s supportive and friendly, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. Anti-GLBT bias and prejudice affects all members of the campus community, and it is everyone’s collective responsibility to work against it. An ally understands that standing up for GLBT rights is not a “gay thing,” but a human rights issue about which all people should be concerned.
The main purpose of the NDSCS Safe Space program is to visibly mark people and places that are “safe” for GLBT students. The Safe Space sticker on a door, window or other recognizable place lets others know that the individual located there is a safe person, or ally, to approach for support and guidance. Safe Space Allies are not personal counselors, but they offer a safe place for GLBT individuals to be themselves. An ally listens. An ally respects confidentiality. An ally offers support, personally and through outside resources and referrals. An ally understands!
What does the SAFE SPACE Symbol mean?
You might recognize some of the components of the Safe Space symbol, which is a combination of the GLBT Pride flag and the gay pink triangle and lesbian black triangle. Perhaps you’ve seen a rainbow flag flying at a GLBT event, and maybe you’ve seen black or pink triangle buttons or shirts. Understanding the history of these symbols might give you an idea of their importance, and an understanding of their enduring popularity among GLBT people and their allies.
The history of the pink triangle begins before WWII, during Adolph Hitler’s rise to power. In 1935, he revised a German law prohibiting homosexual relations to include kissing, embracing, and gay fantasies in addition to sexual acts. Convicted offenders, of which there were an estimated 25,000 between 1937 and 1939, were sent to prison and then later to concentration camps. Their sentence was to be sterilized, which was most often accomplished by castration. In 1942, the punishment was extended to death.
Each prisoner in the concentration camps wore a colored inverted triangle to designate their reason for incarceration. The pink triangle was for homosexuals. Estimates of the gay men killed during the Nazi regime range from 50,000 to twice that figure. When the war was finally over, countless gay men remained imprisoned in the camps, because the law regarding homosexuals remained in the books until its 1969 repeal in West Germany.
Like the pink triangle, the black triangle is also rooted in Nazi Germany. Although lesbians were not included in the laws prohibiting homosexuality, black triangles were used to designate prisoners with “anti-social” behavior. Since the Nazi ideal of womanhood focused on rearing children, domestic duties, and church, black triangle prisoners may have included lesbians, women who refused to bear children, and women with other “anti-social” traits. In the 1970’s, gay liberation groups resurrected the pink triangle as a symbol for the gay rights movement. Similarly, the black triangle was reclaimed by lesbians and feminists. Not only are the black and pink triangles easily recognizable, they draw attention to oppression and persecution—then and now. To many, the black and pink triangles represent pride, solidarity, and a promise to never allow another Holocaust to happen again.
The rainbow flag has a much happier history. It first appeared in 1978, when it was flown during the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day Parade. Gilbert Baker, a San Francisco artist, designed the rainbow flag in response to a need for a symbol that could be used year after year. Baker borrowed symbolism from the civil rights and hippie movements, and created a flag that has gained worldwide recognition. The different colors of the flag symbolize different components of the community: red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sun, green for nature, blue for art, and purple for spirit. A black stripe added at the bottom symbolizes a hope for victory over AIDS.
GLSEN combined both of these potent symbols for the Safe Space stickers and posters. The emblem reminds us of the joy of the diverse, accepting community we hope to build through programs like Safe Space, as well as the struggle against oppression we face as we try to make that vision a reality. In addition, not all members of the GLBT community identify the pink or black triangles as personal symbols, so combining them with the rainbow flag makes a symbol that is accessible.
Oops! It appears your browser is no longer supported.
You have a few options from this point. The first and most recommended option would be to download one of the browsers below. If that is not possible, the second suggestion would be to update your current browser, you can follow the update link below for that. Otherwise, the site will still function in its current state, but in a limited capacity.