Virtual Lavender Graduation ceremony celebrates LGBTQ+ graduates

By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)– The accomplishments of graduating Cal State San Bernardino lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and ally students were celebrated at the university’s annual Lavender Graduation, which this year was held virtually on June 5.

About 45 graduates participated in the celebration, with a total of 85 people attending the event, which was presented by the Santos Manuel Student Union Queer and Transgender Resource Center and the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Plus Faculty Staff and Student Association (LGBTQ+ FSSA), said Jacob Chacko, assistant director of Diversity & Inclusion for the Santos Manuel Student Union. The 45 graduates all received a  celebratory package in the mail with their lavender graduation sashes.

First celebrated at CSUSB in 2013, the Lavender Graduation was held virtually this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a videotaped welcome, CSUSB President Tomás Morales congratulated the graduates and thanked their families and friends for joining in the virtual festivities.

The president reiterated CSUSB’s commitment to diversity, which he called “a core value within our university’s mission statement and an essential part of the campus culture. Together, we respect the satisfaction that comes from being at ease with who we are as individuals while also taking joy in being part of the greater whole,” Morales said. “This is a time to celebrate and to honor your contributions to our rich campus culture.”

The keynote speaker was Raja Gopal Bhattar, a nationally recognized leader in higher education, consultant and author, who gave a very timely and intersectional message on #blacklivesmatter and the queer and trans community. The other speakers included Chacko, Julie Kreuger, chair of the LGBTQFSSA; Marisol Johnson, Lavender Graduation Events chair; and Bailey Stumreiter, student staff lead for the Queer and Transgender Resource Center, who introduced speakers and spoke at various parts of the ceremony.

When their names were called, each of the graduating students was offered 10 seconds to share a message with the attendees. Many students thanked their family, chosen family, and loved ones, Chacko said.

“It was truly an emotional and inspiring moment for everyone,” Chacko said.

The Lavender Graduation is an annual ceremony conducted on numerous campuses to honor lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and ally students and to acknowledge their achievements and contributions to their university.

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 began at the University of Michigan in 1995 with three graduates. By 2001, there were more than 45 Lavender Graduation ceremonies at colleges and universities nationwide.

For more information, visit the SMSU Queer and Transgender Resource Center website.

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