University of Northern Iowa students elect transgender homecoming queen

By : Wire Report
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Cedar Falls, Iowa (AP) – A 21-year-old transgender student has been named homecoming queen at the University of Northern Iowa.

Steven Sanchez was selected Friday night during a homecoming pep rally, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported.

He’s the first transgender student to be selected as homecoming queen, a tradition that was recently renewed after decades without a homecoming court.

Sanchez nominated himself for the title, then was selected by a panel of faculty and students as one of 10 court applicants, based on academic standing, essay question responses and campus involvement.

The 440 students who attended an earlier competition voted to select the winners.

“I am completely speechless. I honestly didn’t even think I would win,” Sanchez said. “I am going to do everything I can to continue supporting the LGBT community and encourage everyone to get involved on campus no matter what it is.”

Sanchez said he didn’t attend a traditional high school because students bullied him for being more effeminate. He said he’s now filling a hole left by a lack of a high school homecoming experience.

In his homecoming court application, Sanchez detailed his work in the university relations department and the UNI Proud board, an advocacy group representing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students and others.

Sanchez said his participation was an effort to raise the visibility of the LGBT community on UNI’s campus.

“I’ve never felt more accepted than I have here at UNI,” he said.

Brad Freihoefer, director of LGBT student services center Iowa State University, applauded Sanchez’s efforts to spread awareness about the LGBT community.

“I think it’s outstanding,” he said. “I’m certainly excited and thrilled that students feel comfortable enough to come out and engage in that way.”

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