Clarion plans first Lavender Graduation

Katie Hillman – Staff Writer

Clarion University’s Presidential Commission on LGBT+ Concerns and Clarion Allies continue to plan Clarion’s first annual Lavender Graduation ceremony from 2 to 4 p.m. May 6 in Moore Hall.

Lavender Graduation is an annual ceremony held on college campuses nationwide to honor graduating LGBT+ students, acknowledge their achievements and present them a rainbow cord to wear at the university’s commencement ceremony.

Ronni Sanlo, a professor at the University of Michigan, created the ceremony in 1995 after being denied the opportunity to attend her biological children’s graduation because she was a lesbian, causing her to sympathize with her students’ struggle.

Lavender Graduation received its name due to the importance of lavender to the LGBT+ community. According to the official website, lavender is a combination of the pink triangles concentration camps forced gay men to wear and the black triangle that designated lesbians as Nazi political prisoners in World War II. The LGBT+ community combined these symbols of hatred and transformed them into symbols of pride and community.

“Unfortunately, graduation from college is something that not all LGBT+ students will be able to see,” Allies President Morgan Woodin said. “[Lavender graduation] is a celebration held by colleges and universities nationwide, and with the support of President [Karen] Whitney, Clarion has decided to put together its first ceremony.”

Director of Social Equity Amy Salsgiver emailed students to inform them of the event and instructed them on how to RSVP. Students, faculty, family and outside friends were all welcome to attend the ceremony as long as they reserved their spots by April 15.

Graduating students who wished to receive a cord filled out a form listing their accomplishments they wanted recognized during the ceremony. These students were allowed to invite their family and friends to the ceremony, as well as choose a “guest of honor” who has shown them significant support in their journey. This guest will present the student their cord.

“Lavender Graduation has been something that Allies has wanted to bring to Clarion for some time,” Woodin said.

“But prior to this year, there was a policy in place by former President Dr. [Joseph] Grunenwald that stated students were not permitted to wear cords and stoles unless their organization was affiliated with a national chapter.

“This summer, President Whitney removed that policy and reached out to Allies and the Presidential Commission on LGBT+ Concerns and suggested that we begin having Lavender Graduation ceremonies here at Clarion.”

For more information on the Lavender Graduation ceremony, contact Amy Salsgiver at or visit its website.

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