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Lavender Graduation

What is Lavender Graduation?

Lavender Graduation is an annual ceremony conducted on numerous campuses to honor lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and ally students and to acknowledge their achievements and contributions to the University. The Lavender Graduation Ceremony was created by Dr. Ronni Sanlo, a Jewish Lesbian, who was denied the opportunity to attend the graduations of her biological children because of her sexual orientation.  It was through this experience that she came to understand the pain felt by her students.  Encouraged by the Dean of Students at the University of Michigan, Dr. Sanlo designed the first Lavender Graduation Ceremony in 1995.  The first Lavender Graduation began at the University of Michigan in 1995, with three graduates.  By 2001, there were over 45 Lavender Graduation Ceremonies at Colleges and Universities nationwide.  Graduating students, including undergraduates and graduates, are invited to take part in the celebration, which occurs each year the week prior to university-wide commencement events.

Why a Lavender Graduation Ceremony?

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.

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.

The signifcance of "Lavender"

Lavender is important to LGBT history.  It is a combination of the pink triange that gay men were forced to wear in concentration camps and the black triange 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.

Does my college/university have this celebration?

There are many colleges that have this special rite of passage including:

  • American University
  • Amherst College
  • Bloomsburg University
  • Bowling Green State University
  • Brandeis University
  • Brown University
  • Central Conneticut State University
  • Columbia University
  • California State Polytechical College
  • Carlton College
  • Colgate University
  • Cornell University
  • Duke University
  • Elon University
  • Emory University
  •  
  • Gallaudet University
  • Georiga Tech
  • George Mason University
  • Georgetown University
  • Grand Valley State University
  • Harvey Mudd College
  • Iowa State University
  • Indiana University Bloomington
  • James Madison University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Kansas State University
  • Lousiana State University
  • Loyola Marymount University
  • Macalester University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Miami University
  • New Mexico State University
  • North Carolina State University
  • Northwestern University
  • Ohio State University
  • Oregon State University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Plymouth State University
  • Ponoma University
  • Portland State University
  • Princeton University 
  • Purdue University
  • Rutgers University
  • San Diego State University
  • Scripps University
  • Stanford University
  • State University of New York
  • Suffolk University
  • Temple University
  • Texas State University
  • University of Alabama
  • University of California, Berkley 
  • University of Colorado Boulder
  • University of Georgia
  • University of Florida
  • University of Idaho
  • University of Illinois- Chicago
  • University of Illinois- Springfield
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Michigan 
  • University of Missouri
  • University of Nebraska- Lincoln
  • University of Nevada- Reno
  • University of North Carolina Asheville
  • University of North Dakota
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Oklahoma 
  • University of Oregon
  • University of San Francisco
  • University of Southern California
  • University of South Carolina
  • University of Southern Maine
  • University of Richmond
  • University of Rhode Island
  • University of Tennesee 
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • University of Utah
  • University of Vermont 
  • University of Virginia
  • University of Wisconsin
  • University of Wyoming
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Vassar College
  • Virginia Commonwelath University
  • Williams College
  • Yale University