Making DC’s Bars and Restaurants Safer for Everyone

In 2016, Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS) worked with Defend Yourself to re-launch the Safe Bars program, a training to equip front of house bar and restaurant staff to recognize and respond to sexual harassment among staff and patrons. The program worked to increase staff’s understanding of the dynamics of sexual aggression and provide them with strategies to prevent sexual harassment from escalating to sexual assault, specifically in DC nightlife.

Twenty bars and restaurants became certified Safe Bars in 2016. So far in 2017, we have trained an additional 7 bars. 

Our report provides an overview of analyzed survey data from evaluations given to all bar and restaurant staff who completed the training in 2016, as well as additional data collected from local and national sources. This data, combined with personal stories from trans people of color in DC, helped to inform our decision to revamp the program as the Safe Bar Collective:  a renewed commitment to DC’s most marginalized communities.

In this new program, CASS will take a three pronged approach:

  • Improving our curriculum, based on data from the report, and making it more inclusive. This includes an expanded conversation on race and how it can affect experiences with sexual violence and hate-based harassment.
  • Creating job opportunities for trans people of color by training program participants with specific job and social skills to prepare them for work in the front of the house at local bars and restaurants. CASS will leverage its existing partnerships with 27 bars that are already working to cultivate safe environments and partner with the Restaurant Opportunities Center of DC for the training.
  • Providing ongoing support to help these workers maintain employment with access to transportation, hygiene kits, food, and a supportive group environment.

By building the capacity of bars and restaurants to support marginalized workers, and actively supporting trans people of color in accessing and maintaining supportive employment, the Safe Bar Collective works to make public spaces safer for everyone.

The program is set to begin in summer 2017 — and we need your help to get it started. Take action and support this program during the DoMore24 campaign on June 8th. 

Trained Bars

News Coverage

The Safe Bar Collective launched using data collected during our highly successful Safe Bars program, cited in these articles:

Safe Bars
Upworthy, 9/17/16

Behind The Bar, In Front Of The Curve: Safe Bars Trains To Stop Sexual Harassment
DCist, 8/16/16

Training Bar Staff And Bystanders To Prevent Sexual Assault
WAMU, “The Kojo Nnamdi Show,” 7/27/16

Bartenders in DC are learning how to stop sexual assault, and so far it’s working.
UpWorthy, 7/18/16

Bars Are Learning How To Stop Sexual Assault, And The NFL Is Helping
Huffington Post, 7/13/16

You Want In?

If you work at a bar, club, restaurant, or other alcohol-serving establishment and you’d like to become a safer bar, we’d be happy to come and work with your staff. If you’re a member of the community and want to help us spread the word about the Safe Bar Collective, tell us of a bar you think needs this training, or support our work in any other way, contact us at