Lavender Graduation gives LGBTQ students special ceremony
Students in the LGBTQ community who have exerted themselves in their studies at the University of Houston will be rewarded with a graduation ceremony held in their honor on Friday night.
The annual Lavender Graduation ceremony honoring lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and ally students will be held at 6 p.m. Friday in the Student Center South – Bayou City Room. UH is one of more 100 colleges in the country to hold an annual Lavender Graduation.
“It is important for the LGBTQ community to have a safe space in order to celebrate our achievements and accomplishments that students have made during their time at UH,” said liberal studies senior Rashad Moody, who will attend the ceremony.
The history of the Lavender Graduation, also known as Lav Grad, dates back to 1995 when University of Michigan professor Ronni Sanlo, a Jewish lesbian, was blocked from attending the graduations of her biological children because of her sexual orientation. She created the first Lavender Graduation ceremony at the University of Michigan.
“This is meant to acknowledge the achievements and contributions of the LGBTQ and ally students on campus,” said Jamie Gonzales, the program coordinator at the LGBTQ Resource Center. “Sometimes students aren’t able to be out to their families, so for some, it is an opportunity to celebrate with their friends who they really are.”
This event serves different students in different ways, Gonzales said.
“It allows LGBTQ students that may have never met before an opportunity to meet other graduates across other fields,” Gonzales said.
Friday’s event will honor 27 students, up from 11 at last year’s Lavender Graduation.
Students have the possibility to meet members of the LGBTQ Alumni Association, be celebrated by community members and be welcomed into the greater community, Gonzales said.
The reception, hosted by the Alumni Association, will take place at 7 p.m.
The ceremony will host two speakers. One of them will be UH alumna Melanie Espinosa Pang — one of the first two students to graduate with a minor in LGBT Studies from UH. She currently serves as a co-chair of Mayor Sylvester Turner’s LGBTQ Advisory Board.
In addition, Richard Walker, the vice president and vice chancellor for Student Affairs and Enrollment Services, will share some words with the students and present the graduation certificates and Lavender Graduation cords students will wear at commencement.
“The opportunity to attend Lav Grad is huge for students on campus that are a part of the LGBTQ community,” Moody said. “Some schools don’t even have a resource center, let alone a night to celebrate their achievements. The fact that UH has this type of celebration shows how inclusive our school is.”