Portland State University “Lavender” graduation celebrates gay student accomplishments
Author: Suzanne Pardington
Posted: May 28, 2010

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer graduates of PortlandStateUniversity will celebrate their accomplishments on May 28 at the second-annual Lavender Graduation. 


PSU is one of about 100 colleges and universities across the country that hold Lavender Graduation celebrations for LGBTQ students.


“It is very challenging to get through life as a person who doesn’t identify with the traditional mainstream,” said Shannon Timm, Queer Resource Center adviser. “This is a program that acknowledges the extra level of hard work required of queer students to make it through.”


Pride Awards will be given to two students for their academic excellence and contributions to the queer community on campus.


The guest speaker at the ceremony is Ronni Sanlo, who started the first Lavender Graduation at the University of Michigan in 1995 and brought the idea with her to the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1997. It quickly spread to other universities.


Sanlo is UCLA’s senior associate dean of students, director of the Masters of Education in Student Affairs program, and executive director of the campus LGBTCenter.


Sanlo said she created the ceremony in Michigan because LGBTQ students were having a difficult time, and she wanted to recognize their struggles and successes. She speaks at ceremonies across the country whenever she can.


“It fills my heart to be able to share that kind of celebration with someone, to say we care about you, you matter to the institution, and we want you to give back to the institution,” she said. “It’s giving them a giant hug.”