University celebrates LGBTQIA+ students at first Lavender Graduation

May 16, 2023
By: Guest Contributor

Worcester State University honored lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and ally students to acknowledge their achievements and contributions at its first Lavender Graduation May 10.

“This was a great event filled with support, hope, and joy,” said  Alison Park,  assistant director of the LGBTQIA+ Resource Center, which hosted the event. 

There were about 70 people in attendance and 19 students who took part in the Lavender Ceremony where they received cords to represent their accomplishments as LGBTQIA+ students/allies in the WSU community. 

Park welcomed guests and Barry M. Maloney gave opening remarks, followed by student speaker, Elias Nelson, who is president of the LGBTQ+ Alliance Student Club. The keynote speaker was Dr. Timothy Murphy, department chair for Urban Studies and an advisor to the LGBTQ+ Alliance. After the speech, the students walked across to get their lavender cords. 

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.  Encouraged by the dean of students at the University of Michigan, Dr. Sanlo designed the first Lavender Graduation Ceremony in 1995 at the University of Michigan with three graduates. By 2001, there were more than 45 Lavender Graduation Ceremonies at Colleges and Universities nationwide. 


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