U-Idaho Celebrates LGBTQA Students’ Success with Lavender Graduation

Wednesday, April 11 2012

By Emily Frank

MOSCOW, Idaho – Steve Martin, development organizer for the Pride Foundation will give the keynote speech at the University of Idaho’s 2012 Lavender Graduation on Tuesday, April 24 at 7 p.m. in the Idaho Commons Clearwater/Whitewater Rooms.

Lavender Graduation celebrates the accomplishments and lives of LGBTQ – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning – and Ally students at the university.

“Hosting a Lavender Graduation shows our prospective and current students, as well as our alumni, that the University of Idaho is an open and accepting place where all individuals, regardless of the gender identity or sexuality, are a valuable part of our campus community,” said Heather Ebba Maib, interim coordinator of the LQBTQA Office.

This year, in an effort to create an Idaho connection and provide students with a unique experience, the LGBTQA Office chose a keynote speaker who is an advocate for LGBTQ rights and social justice within the state of Idaho.

“Steve Martin and the Pride Foundation work through their mission to inspire a culture of inclusivity that connects and strengthens Northwest organizations, leaders, and students who are creating LGBTQ equality,” said Heather Shea Gasser, director of the Women’s Center. “This recognition of underrepresented groups by support groups like the Pride Foundation is the key to success of the inclusive environment we are striving to create here on campus.”

At Lavender Graduation, each student receives a certificate of distinction and a rainbow tassel to mark the occasion. The event is followed by a reception with refreshments, including a graduation cake. In addition to friends and family members invited by the students, a growing number of other university administration, faculty and staff will join in the celebration.

“This event is another way for us to express the appreciation we have for LGBTQA identified students. It also demonstrates to them that they are supported by the university staff, faculty, and administration,” said Maib.

Lavender Graduation was started in 1995 by Ronni Sanlo, the current director of the University of Michigan LGBT Resource Center. She recognized that LGBT students needed their own graduation ceremony to honor their accomplishments and contributions to the university and to acknowledge the fact that they had survived the college experience. Many campuses across the country have begun to host their own Lavender Graduations.

Lavender Graduation is sponsored by the LGBTQA Office, which is organizationally structured within and primarily funded by the Women’s Center. For more information about the University of Idaho’s Lavender Graduation, visit www.uidaho.edu/studentaffairs/lgbtqa.
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About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. Learn more: www.uidaho.edu.