History of Lavender Graduation
Lavender Graduation is an annual event to celebrate the achievements and contributions of graduating LGBTQ+ and ally students. The ceremony is held in addition to traditional commencement services and allows for a more communal and affirming environment for attendees. Dr. Ronni Sanlo, a UF alum, is credited with holding the first Lavender Graduation Ceremony in 1995, at the University of Michigan while serving as the Director of their LGBT Campus Resource Center.
“My vision is that Lavender Graduation will be an annual celebration at every college and university in the country and that the lives of our LGBT students will be fully honored. Since LGBT students are of every race, ability, nationality, gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic levels, Lavender Graduation provides a unique opportunity to present a truly multicultural event while acknowledging students who spent most of their college years succumbing to invisibility on their campuses.” – Dr. Sanlo, 1996
More than 20 years after the initial Lavender Graduation, Dr. Sanlo’s vision comes closer to reality with over 500 universities and colleges across the nation having organized their own Lavender Graduation ceremony. Historically, “lavender” as a term and color have been synonymous with queerness and the LGBTQ+ community. Students often receive lavender diplomas, stoles, cords or tassels as part of their recognition at the ceremony.
Lavender Graduation at the University of Florida
At the University of Florida, the Office of LGBTQ+ Affairs organizes the annual Lavender Graduation Ceremony with support of other campus partners. Undergraduate and graduate students who identify as LGBTQ+ or an ally of the LGBTQ community and are graduating in the year of the ceremony are eligible to apply. The ceremony includes dinner, provided by the University, as well as a short program featuring a keynote speaker and the recognition of graduating students followed by a reception off-campus. LGBTQ+ faculty and staff as well as guests of graduates are encouraged and invited to attend.
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