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August 23-30, 2006

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Nūz: Santa Cruz County News Briefs

The Queerest of Them All

"I think college is the time that you figure out what you're going to be for the rest of your life," says Bruce Steele, editor in chief of the Advocate, the national gay and lesbian news magazine.

Whew!! Big decisions. According to Steele, a career path is not the only thing up in the air during those late-teen and early-20s years. College kids are also dealing with their sexual identity, and how they're going to present themselves to the world.

Most people come out before age 25, says Steele.

"So I think it's important for anyone, gay or straight, to find the right environment in which to make those important decisions," Steele told Nūz.

Which is why The Advocate published The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students, listing 100 best campuses in the United States, all requirements based on the school's perceived degree of LGBT friendliness.

UCSC made the Top 20, with a Gay Point Average of 18 out of 20 possible points (the Gay Point method being a queer-accommodation checklist used in the book as a rating scale).

So, UC-Santa Cruz is a nice place to be out. This may not be a huge surprise to most Santa Cruz residents. But Nūz was quite startled to see that UCLA's Gay Point Average was higher than UCSC's. What? Southern California is queer-friendlier than we are? And (heart-attack) so are Ohio State University and the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities, both with Gay Point Averages of 19.

The two areas where UCSC flunked were in actively recruiting LGBT students to enroll on campus, and training campus police on LGBT sensitivity. Though UCSC didn't manage to steal the blue ribbon, at least we beat out Harvard, which didn't make it into The Advocate's guide at all this time around, partially due to the absence of an anti-discrimination policy that applies to transgender students at the time the book went to press. Harvard has since changed its policy.

"What's interesting about colleges today is that they're competing to be gay-friendly, and the reason that Harvard changed its policies is that the other schools that it feels it competes with had been doing a better job," says Steele.

Nūz is all for a good old-fashioned competition, so come on UCSC, we can't let Minnesota beat us! We have to be the queerest of them all!

Nūz just loves juicy tips about Santa Cruz County politics.

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