New Safe-Space Training Coalition (press release)

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A coalition of area organizations has formed to offer safe-space training to nonprofits, businesses throughout Central Virginia

April 3, 2016, Charlottesville, VA – The Charlottesville Pride Community Network is proud to announce the formation of the Charlottesville Area Safe Space Trainers (CASST), a coalition of organizations committed to building awareness and increasing inclusiveness through education.

Cville Pride is joined by The Women’s Initiative, the Charlottesville Office of Human Rights, ROSMY, Blue Ridge PFLAG, and the UVA LGBTQ Center in this effort. The coalition offers safe-space sessions that train your employees or members in the terminology and concepts of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and intersectionality. Learning about the statistics, experiences, issues of discrimination and bias that shape and inform the LGBTQ+ community increases cultural sensitivity, respect, and empathy required to for a work environment that is safe, inclusive, and affirming.

“If at least half of your staff or employees complete the training, you earn the privilege of posting a Safe Cville sticker on your building and online communications,“ says Linda McNeil, of ROSMY. “This sticker clearly tells your clients that you care about being an inclusive, welcoming place to the LGBTQ+ community.”

Amy-Sarah Marshall of Cville Pride says this message offers valuable benefits. “If you’re a business, demonstrating a commitment to inclusiveness can attract a loyal customer base and talented employees, as well as augment your reputation with consumers across the board. The majority of consumers appreciate and support visibly inclusive businesses,” she says. ”As a nonprofit, you’re already committed to serving the community, some of whom, no doubt, are also LGBTQ. Ensuring you provide informed, unbiased services helps you more fully and comprehensively fulfill your mission.” Safe-space trained organizations and businesses also become part of a larger network that offers continued support and resources.

Coalition members propose that safe-space training uplifts the whole area. “We have the chance here in Charlottesville to be a leading light in terms of becoming a visibly welcoming place to live, work, and visit here in the Commonwealth,” Marshall says. “We’re hoping that more and more safe-space trained places will help raise the profile of the city, bring more business, more tourism, and continue to grow our vibrant community in ways that honor and value its diversity.”

Safe Space trainings are free to nonprofits and are available to for-profit businesses for a small fee. Trainings have already been provided to the Charlottesville/Albemarle Health Department, Junior League of Charlottesville, Albemarle County school counselors, Human Rights Commission, and the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services Cultural and Linguistic Competence Advisory Committee. To request a training, visit


For more information, contact Amy-Sarah Marshall at


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