Registration for Lavender Graduation 2013
2013 Lavender Graduation June 6th, 2013 12-2pm
Lavender Graduation is a ceremony to recognize accomplishments of campus Queer communities and honor Queer students, their allies and their families as they graduate from Portland State University.As a graduate, you are invited to select mentors, friends, family and faculty to introduce you to your graduating class at Lavender Graduation.
Why Does the QRC Have Lavender Graduation?
from Dr. Roni Sanlo, Lavender Graduation program founder
This is an excerpt from Sanlo, R. (1999, Spring). Lavender Graduation: Acknowledging the Lives and Achievements of LGBT CollegeStudents. The Community Psychologist, 32(2), pp. 54-56.
For decades students at colleges and universities around the country have been celebrating both their academic achievements and their cultural heritages at specialized commencement events. Many of these events are student-initiated and usually occur during the university-wide commencement weekend. These events provide a sense of community for minority students who often experience tremendous culture shock at their impersonalized institutions. For many students they are the payoff for staying in school, and friends and families find the smaller, more ethnic ceremonies both meaningful and personal.
Lavender Graduation is a cultural celebration that recognizes LGBT students of all races and ethnicities and acknowledges their achievements and contributions to the university as students who survived the college experience. Through such recognition LGBT students may leave the university with a positive last experience of the institution thereby encouraging them to become involved mentors for current students as well as financially contributing alumni.
There is scant literature that describes celebratory experiences within LGBT culture. Indeed, there is little that describes LGBT culture at all. Most LGBT students experience the culture of their racial, ethnic, national, or religious backgrounds, but rarely experience a university-supported event directly associated with celebrating their lives as LGBT people and LGBT students. Lavender Graduation is an event to which LGBT students look forward, where they not only share their hopes and dreams with one another, but where they are officially recognized by the institution for their leadership and their successes and achievements.
At UCLA, Lavender Graduation is presented by the UCLA Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Campus Resource Center. Volunteers from many ethnic backgrounds participate in the preparation of the event, especially as advertisements are developed, arrangements made, invitations created, and speakers, musicians, and dignitaries invited. At the event, faculty and staff process into the venue wearing the robes associated with their degrees, while families and friends witness the entrance. The graduating students next process to their seats. Greetings and speeches are offered by University Leaders such as the Chancellor or Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, by the Mayor of West Hollywood, and by other appropriate dignitaries. Vox Femina Los Angeles lesbian chorus provides the music. Leadership awards are given to outstanding student leaders, and LGBT Studies minor graduates receive a certificate for the completion of the LGBT minor degree. All graduating students received a rainbow tassel and a Certificate of Distinction. A reception for the graduates, their families, friends, and guests follow.
While working as the director of the LGBT Campus Resource Center at the University of Michigan, I realized that LGBT students needed and, in fact, deserved to be recognized not only for their achievements but for surviving their college years. As commencement activities were being planned for the Spring of 1995, I saw an opportunity to include LGBT students in the celebration process. I noticed that many of the ethnic groups were hosting their own ceremonies, so why not something for LGBT students? I had heard from too many LGBT students that they simply didn't feel connected to the institution nor to their various ethnic groups to want to participate in any of the commencement ceremonies. Their journeys through college as out LGBT women and men had been painful enough, they said; they just wanted to quietly leave. I happen to be a Jewish lesbian. I love rituals and celebrations. I was not invited to my own biological children's graduation celebrations because of my sexual orientation so I felt a pain similar to that of my students, and I wanted to ease it however possible. With the encouragement of the Dean of Students at Michigan, I designed the first Lavender Graduation celebration in 1995 just for LGBT students and called it Lavender Graduation. (Lavender is important to LGBT history. It is a combination of the pink triangle that gay men were forced to wear in concentration camps and the black triangle designating lesbians as political prisoners in Nazi Germany. The LGBT civil rights movement took these symbols of hatred and combined them to make symbols and color of pride and community.)
As chair of the National Consortium of LGBT Campus Resource Center Directors, I shared the development and process of Lavender Graduation with my colleagues around the country. By 1997 several other campuses had initiated their own Lavender Graduations and by 1999 there were such celebrations at 18 other institutions. It is my vision that Lavender Graduation will become an annual event at every major institution in the country, honoring the lives and achievements of our LGBT students. Since LGBT students cross all lines of race, nationality, ethnicity, gender, ability, and socioeconomics, this special celebration provides unique multiple opportunities to present a truly multicultural event while acknowledging a population of students who often succumb to the plight of invisibility on their campuses.
Also, see Sanlo, R. (2000). Lavender Graduation: acknowledging the lives and achievements of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender college students. Journal of College Student Development, 41(6), pp. 643-646.