By Suki Wessling, Growing Up Santa Cruz, March 01, 2017.
When you type “diversity center” into your browser, the top hit will be for the one in Santa Cruz. That preferential placement probably reflects that your search engine knows you’re in Santa Cruz, but it also reflects a reality:
Santa Cruz’s Diversity Center was once “The” Diversity Center—the first, the only.
That’s not surprising for Santa Cruz, but unless you or a family member is on the gender spectrum, you might be surprised that living in our county as an LGBTQ youth is not all rainbows.
“Even in our community, which is far more welcoming then many communities in the country, you still regularly hear about children who are getting bullied or yelled at on the street,” explains Diversity Center Executive Director Sharon Papo. “We’ve come so far, and we have so much further to go.”
With the help of the County Office of Education, the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, the City and County of Santa Cruz, and the United Way, along with numerous other private and public funding sources, the Center puts a large emphasis on serving youth in meet-ups in both Santa Cruz and Watsonville.
But it doesn't stop with that effort.
“Not everyone comes to the Diversity Center and nobody lives at the Diversity Center, so what we’re doing is creating a more welcoming community throughout the county,” Papo explains.