The Gender and Sexuality Student Resource Center plans to honor the success of Salt Lake Community College LGBTQ+ graduates during its inaugural Lavender Graduation on Tuesday at noon.
“Lavender Graduation allows us to celebrate the accomplishments of our queer students here at SLCC,” said Patricia Salgado, GSSRC peer mentor and social work major. “This past year has already been so difficult for our students. Some students are stuck at home with families that are not so accepting of their sexual and gender identities and are lacking the communities that make them feel safe and welcomed. Our queer students deserved to be honored at an event that will let them know that they’ve made it.”
Though the event won’t be held as a formal ceremony because of COVID regulations and precautions, the staff at the GSSRC, led by Salgado, have planned an event that they hope will be worthwhile and exciting. The GSSRC invited graduates to sign up to be recognized at the celebration and friends, family, students and the rest of the SLCC community are invited to participate.
“This will be SLCC’s first Lavender celebration, so they will be the first ones to experience it,” Salgado said. “My hope for the future is that Lavender Graduation becomes a whole ceremony celebrated each year … I’m hoping that each Lav Grad that comes after this one is bigger and better than before, with students looking forward to participating and celebrating themselves each year.”
Created in 1995 by Dr. Ronni Sanlo, a Jewish lesbian, educator and author, the Lavender Graduation ceremony is conducted on numerous campuses to highlight LGBTQ+ students of all races and ethnicities for their achievements and contributions. By 2001, there were over 45 Lavender Graduation ceremonies at colleges and universities nationwide, and the number of these ceremonies has continued to grow.
Sanlo wrote that ceremonies existed for students of various ethnicities and other non-academic groups, but nothing for LGBTQ+ students who tend to feel “most disenfranchised from their colleges and universities.”
“I’m not graduating yet, but I am so excited to be part of this when I do graduate,” said Henry Knudson, who is studying English and writing at SLCC. “These kinds of things are so great because they show support for LGBTQ+ students. I’ve known the struggle of going out on your own and reaching for your dreams when you’re LGBTQ+ and it means a lot to see this sort of celebration.”