Paul James (“PJ”) Sedillo
Las Vegas, New Mexico – A New Mexico Highlands University special education professor will present two free Safe Zone training workshops Jan. 24 aimed at creating a network of support for the LGBTQ community.
Paul James (“PJ”) Sedillo will present the public Safe Zone trainings from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. and from 1 – 3 p.m. at the Highlands main campus in Las Vegas in the Student Center Ballroom, 800 National Ave.
“Safe Zone trainings are opportunities to learn about LGBTQ identities, gender and sexuality, as well as examine prejudice, assumptions and privilege,” Sedillo said. “A Safe Zone placard is often given to participants upon completing the training. Displaying Safe Zone placards demonstrates you went to a training and can communicate to others the commitment you’re making to LGBTQ-inclusive environments.”
Sedillo, who has taught Safe Zone trainings for 15 years, said the Safe Zone placards also send the message that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals are welcome and supported.
“Safe Zone trainings are safe places for people to go learn more about their own gender and sexuality and deepen their understanding of LGBTQ identity and issues,” Sedillo said. “While the trainings will assist heterosexual people to learn how to be better allies, there is a lot for everyone to learn in a Safe Zone workshop. For example, they’ll learn empathy.”
Sedillo said Safe Zone trainings have been used globally for decades. The trainings use education, advocacy, visibility and skill development to help participants become allies for LGBTQ individuals.
The Highlands University Title V UNIDOS program is sponsoring Sedillo’s Safe Zone workshops. Previously, Sedillo presented Safe Zone workshops at several Highlands faculty and staff development weeks as well as for student workers at the university’s Achieving in Research, Math and Science (ARMAS) center.
“I’ve already trained close to 100 people at Highlands as Safe Zone allies,” Sedillo said.
Sedillo, an Albuquerque native, served as president and co-president of Albuquerque Pride from 1989 – 2010. The nonprofit works to present a positive image of the LGBTQ community. The organization sponsors the annual pride parade and Pridefest in Albuquerque.
Sedillo’s 2017 book, Solidarity Through Pride: 40 Years of GLBT Pride in Albuquerque 1976 – 2016, was featured in USA Today’s Faces of Pride special section June 30, 2017. His book received a 2018 New Mexico and Arizona Book Award.
Sedillo earned his Ph.D. in special education with a concentration in gifted education from the University of New Mexico in 2013. He joined the Highlands University faculty fall semester 2013 and teaches at the university’s Rio Rancho Center.
In 2014, Sedillo developed a new curriculum for gifted education in the School of Education that was implemented the same year.
“Highlands is the only university in New Mexico that currently offers gifted education courses at the master’s degree level and a minor in gifted education,” Sedillo said.
Previously, Sedillo, who earned his bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Highlands, was an educator and resource teacher in Albuquerque Public Schools for 29 years.
Sedillo presents frequently at conferences for the National Association of the Gifted and other education organizations.