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Deciphering Companies' Same-Sex Benefits Policies

For workers who are uncomfortable asking direct questions about policies, Herrschaft recommends an indirect approach, which can be tailored to the specific job.

For example, he said, if the position is in marketing, ask whether the company has considered niche campaigns aimed at minority groups, including gays and lesbians. The interviewer's reaction to the suggestion can give a strong hint about workplace culture.

Not sure which approach to take? Students and recent graduates can look to their university's career center for guidance. For example, the University of Maryland's Career Center includes a special section devoted to issues affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.

If students have concerns not addressed in the myriad pamphlets and handouts the center has on hand, they can turn to Emily Morris, a program director at the center who also serves as the liaison to the university's Office of LGBT Equity.

Morris said her role as liaison is primarily outreach and general community education, but she is available to answer students' questions -- and they often have plenty, as graduation approaches. "In general, college students who identify as LGBT may find support or an inclusive community on campus but aren't sure what they'll find in the workplace," she said.

Loewenthal, a junior computer science and business major, does not expect problems to come up often. He has done his homework, and he said he found that most big employers are progressive on these issues.

He even keeps rejection in perspective: "If they see my sexuality as a negative, I wouldn't want to work there anyway."

Part-Time Law Programs

Did you get your law degree through a part-time program? If so, and you're willing to share your story for a column, send me an e-mail at slayterme@washpost.com.

Join Mary Ellen Slayter with Human Rights Campaign's Daryl Herrschaft for Career Track Live, an online discussion of issues affecting young workers, at 11 a.m. Oct. 26 at www.washingtonpost.com.

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