Lavender ceremony improves recognition of LGBTQ+ students

On-campus coordinators, mentors and representatives of the LGBTQ+ community officially installed a Geneseo chapter of the Lavender Graduation ceremony for the 2017 undergraduates. 

The ceremony is a great step toward recognizing and appreciating LGBTQ+ students and allies on campus and their achievements, and will hopefully lead to more concrete and influential LGBTQ+ policies and programs.

The Lavender Graduation ceremony is an annual event dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ+ graduates at many different colleges and universities around the country. The ceremony was created by Ronni Sanlo, who was denied entry to her biological children’s graduation ceremonies due to her identity as a lesbian. 

She established the first Lavender ceremony at the University of Michigan in 1995, and over time the event has spread nationwide. Around 50 guests are planning to attend the ceremony, including 10-20 students who will be honored.

Based on the small attendance so far, it is evident that the opportunity to participate in the Lavender Graduation was not widely advertised to all graduating seniors, or other students who may want to go and to support friends. 

In addition to broadening the advertisements and promotion of LGBTQ+ events, Geneseo should focus on more preliminary programs and policies that acknowledge and support LGBTQ+ students throughout their college career. 

Currently, Geneseo’s Coordinator of LGBTQ+ Programs and Services is not a full-time position. Expanding this position and its responsibilities would validate the needs of LGBTQ+ students and would build a more supportive, allied community among faculty. 

It is particularly important to expand LGBTQ+ resources, as recent homophobic, racist and misogynistic hate crimes occurred on campus this school year. 

Additionally, a student petition calling for mandatory Safe Zone training for professors was declined at a recent fireside chat with President Denise Battles.

While there are still measures that need to be taken to create a more accepting community for LGBTQ+ individuals at Geneseo, the Lavender Graduation is a step in the right direction. 

Hopefully this ceremony will encourage all Geneseo students to acknowledge the incredible contributions LGBTQ+ individuals make on our campus and will pave the way for more events like it.