Graduates Kayla Harris, left, and Sam Lorinc, center, stand Wednesday, April 3, 2019 with Center for Women and Gender Equity assistant director Lauren Ouwerkerk before the Lavendar Graduation ceremony in the University Center.

Kayla Davis says the Lavender Graduation is an important celebration for queer students, who overcome a lot of barriers to graduate.

“I think the queer community should definitely be recognized for their accomplishments. Graduating in itself is a major success,” she says, who is one of the graduates.

Queer students include not just the gay community but those who identify as bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and allies.

On April 3, UTC held its annual Lavender Graduation with two students participating in the ceremonies, which were orchestrated by the Center for Women and Gender Equity.

Lavender Graduation is an annual ceremony conducted on college campuses nationwide to acknowledge the achievements and contributions that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and ally students make to the university.

Davis explains that this year’s event at UTC is more than a graduation; it is an end-of-the-year celebration for all LGBTQ+ students.

“Every year that a queer student completes school is an accomplishment,” she says because queer students have to deal with a different set of obstacles, often not recognized by the straight community.  

The Lavender Graduation Ceremony was created by Ronni Sanlo, a Jewish lesbian who was denied the opportunity to attend the graduations of her biological children because of her sexual orientation.

The first Lavender Graduation took place at the University of Michigan in 1995 when three students graduated. By 2001, there were more than 45 Lavender Graduation ceremonies at colleges and universities nationwide.

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