“Christianity is so prevalent in society that it’s taken as the norm and to many atheists it’s off-putting,” said the alliance’s spokesman Jesse Galef.

Mr. Galef said the safe zones — rooms or areas set aside specifically for nonreligious students — can help build community, foster service projects and educate individuals about atheism. The safe zones are overseen primarily by student leaders and faculty member allies.

In recent years, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movement were the first to exploit the Equal Protection Act to extend protection to new categories of students who were not necessarily Christian.

“We’re taking a page right out of [the LGBT] playbook,” Mr. Galef said.