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.

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 program, CASS is taking a three pronged approach:

  • Expanding the curriculum, based on data from the report, includes an expanded conversation on race and how identities can affect experiences with harassment and sexual violence.
  • 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 is leveraging its existing partnerships with 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 following venues are active partners in CASS’s Safe Bar Collective:

In 2016, CASS worked with Defend Yourself on the Safe Bars program to train:

News Coverage

Group hopes to improve black transgender unemployment rate
WUSA9, 6/9/17

Safe Bars Meets Goal Of Training 20 Bars In 2016
DCist, 12/9/16

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 start a similar program in your city, contact us at