Lavender Graduation to honor LGBTQ students

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The Gender and Sexuality Center will host UIC’s 13th annual Lavender Graduation, a celebration that brings attention to the accomplishments of LGBTQ graduating students across all academic programs, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. May 3 in the National Hellenic Museum.

Graduating students who wish to participate in the ceremony must register online. There is no limitation on the number of guests graduating students can bring with them, but guests must also register online. A special feature of the ceremony is that a student can select a guest to accompany them on stage to receive their certificate and rainbow tassel.

Lavender Graduations take place on college campuses across the nation, acknowledging the fact that LGBTQ students face a different set of struggles while navigating their educational journey. The Gender and Sexuality Center hosted UIC’s first Lavender Graduation ceremony in 2007.

“We recognize that identity needs to be uplifted and highlighted,” said Moisés Villada, interim director of the UIC Gender and Sexuality Center Interim Director. “We are always looking at the pulse of the country, and we knew that we wanted to be a part of the Lavender Graduation movement.”

The event is open to everyone — friends, colleagues, allies and members of the LGBTQ community are encouraged to attend. Graduating students will have a space to be surrounded by the people and programs who have supported them throughout their college experience.

“The theme of the event is family and chosen family,” Villada said. “Celebrate with the people who have guided you through this sometimes complicated and tough journey.”

Those who attend the ceremony can look forward to hearing from the keynote speaker, Jenne Vailoces, who is a trans activist and owner of Jennivee’s Bakery in Lakeview.

The Gender and Sexuality Center understands that some graduating students are still working through their identity development and comfort level.

“Even if someone cannot take part in the event, we can still give them a rainbow tassel for them to feel connected in the same way,” Villada said. “We meet people where they are at, and work through the layers to make the situation more comfortable. It is important that folks know that Lavender Graduation exists.”