Lavender Graduation is an annual event honoring graduating LGBTQ+ seniors by bringing together members of their communities in celebration of their accomplishments, with particular honor and recognition for the ways in which sexuality and gender have influenced their paths toward graduation.
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Why Lavender Graduation?
The first Lavender Graduation was celebrated in 1995 at the University of Michigan to recognize and honor the LGBTQ students on that campus for “not only their achievements but for surviving their college years” (Slano, 2000). Lavender Graduation, at its foundation, celebrates the achievements of the graduate through the lens of their identity across the spectrum of sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression. This celebration serves as a powerful reminder that LGBTQ+ students live OUT, productive, healthy and engaged lives, often doing so in the face of adversity inside and outside of the classroom.
Lavender is important to LGBTQ+ history. It is a combination of the pink triangle that gay men were forced to wear in concentration camps and the black triangle designating lesbians as political prisoners in Nazi Germany. The LGBTQ+ civil rights movement took these symbols of hatred and combined them to make symbols and color of pride and community.
Scholarships and Awards:
John K. Walsh Scholarship: In June 2001, Professor Billy Bussell Thompson established this scholarship endowment at Plymouth State University in memory of his partner and our dear colleagues John “Jack” K. Walsh. A proud and openly-gay man, Jack Walsh worked toward equality. This scholarship benefits a student who has shown leadership on their campus community with regard to the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals.
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The Carol Perkins Outstanding Community Advocate Award: This award recognizes a member of the community beyond Plymouth State University who has made a significant positive contribution to the causes of LGBTQ visibility, equality, and/or justice. Nominations may be made by anyone and must include a brief statement describing the nominee’s relevant work or activities.
Outstanding Ally Award: This award recognizes a Plymouth State University student ally who has demonstrated exceptional support and has gone above and beyond in advocating for the LGBTQ visibility, equality, and/or justice.