Non-believing students have taken a page from LGBT students and recently started a safe zone program at high school and college campuses across the country.
The Secular Student Alliance has spearheaded a new initiative to make “Secular Safe Zones” on high school and college campuses. According to the organizations website, the mission of the safe zones is to “curtail the effects of discrimination, bullying, and social isolation faced by many secular students – especially high school students – in our society.”
The program will allow any campus official interested in being a mentor to a secular student participate, and will enable them to open up their offices or classrooms as safe zones for those students to meet. If school employees would like their room to be considered a safe zone, they just need to hang the group’s logo on their door, letting students know that they can meet there.
“It’s shocking how often people tell secular students that they don’t belong in America,” said Jesse Galef, communications director for the Secular Student Alliance, to The Atlantic. “Sometimes there are threats of violence against students who openly identify as atheists. We’re calling on supportive role models nationwide to stand up for these students.”
In an interview with Religion News Service, Galef also noted that they are learning from LGBT groups that have started similar programs in schools, noting that after much time spent trying to figure out how to curve bullying of atheist students, this was a logical course of action.
“We heard too many stories of bullying and harassment from our students and looked around for something to do,” said Galef. “This seemed like the logical next step, and it seemed like there is a lot we can learn from what the LGBT community has done.”