By Katherine Klingseis, firstname.lastname@example.org
Members of the ISU community celebrated the achievements of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and ally students at the 15th annual Lavender Graduation on Thursday, May 3.
Brad Freihoefer, coordinator of the LGBT Student Services, said Lavender Graduation serves as an opportunity to recognize the academic achievement of LGBTIQA students in a welcoming, safe environment. He said some LGBTIQA students had to overcome complex challenges to get to graduation.
“[Lavender Graduation] is an opportunity to reflect back on their time here,” Freihoefer said. “It’s an opportunity to see all the support here and celebrate the challenges they overcame.”
In addition to the 20 graduating students, more than 100 community members, including family, friends, students, faculty and staff, joined together in celebration at this year’s Lavender Graduation. Recognizing the support of these community members is also an important component to Lavender Graduation.
“[Lavender Graduation] is about giving recognition to the graduating students, but it’s about showing inclusion,” said Petey Peterson, graduate student in educational leadership and policy studies. “It’s important for people to be allies and show how supportive this community is.”
All the graduating students received gifts, which included business card boxes with their names on them, rainbow roses and rainbow stoles to be worn during the university commencement ceremonies. Freihoefer said this is the first time students will wear rainbow stoles — not rainbow tassels like in previous years — to commencement.
Freihoefer said he hopes being at Lavender Graduation will make graduating students excited for what the future will bring for them.
“Graduation is a big step, and I hope students are getting excited for the next big step,” Freihoefer said. “I want [the students] to know that they can do anything.”
(Posted originally on Iowastatedaily.com on May 3, 2012)