Alternatives to padlock icons on secured categories

the more i think about this, the more i believe the badge for a secure forum should be optional, and i think from a logical perspective, it should also be a key not a lock (as in, the user has the key to get in). yesterday i was doing some work on the component i use to control the sidebar and i enabled the lock badge on my lounge for about an hour and immediately users were confused thinking it was locked, and certainly the fact the lock badge just appeared was a big factor. but that badge is misleading. i keep it on staff categories so staff have an extra indicator they are in their private categories, but users can’t see those ones anyways. i’ve set my Lounge so my anon users can’t see it, so the locked badge doesn’t make sense to me. i’ve hidden it for the Lounge in every other place as well (badge-wrappers, category headers). i think if an option to show a secured category to users is necessary, it should be the key icon badge.

i also feel like the category bullets in the sidebar should adhere to the category style setting if it is set to “none”.