LGBTQ grads honored in 1st Lavender Commencement at Connecticut university

Olivia Carney

Graduates at a state school in Connecticut who identify as LGBTQ have something different to wear to their commencement in addition to the usual caps and gowns: a light purple tassel that marks them as members of the first-ever Lavender Commencement.

Olivia Carney

Tuesday’s Lavender Commencement at Southern Connecticut State University

Southern Connecticut State University held a ceremony Tuesday evening for 13 graduating seniors, organized by Student Affairs graduate intern Olivia Carney at the Sexuality and Gender Equality Center on campus, along with undergraduate student intern, Eleanor Higgins, and SAGE Center Coordinator, Jenna Retort.

Assistant Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs, Dr. Jules Tetreault delivered the keynote address.

Olivia Carney

Tuesday’s Lavender Commencement at Southern Connecticut State University

“Our Lavender Graduates received lavender cords to wear to the university-wide commencement ceremony, as well as certificates,” Carney told LGBTQ Nation in an email. “Students brought guests, and the SAGE Center’s student ambassadors read short bios about each graduate. It was a personalized and special ceremony in which our LGBTQ+ identifying students were able to be recognized for their academic and personal achievements.”

“SCSU is small and often overlooked,” Genevieve Friday Ard, a transgender woman, told LGBTQ Nation in a social media message.  “But it’s my alma mater,” she added with pride. “I never thought I would ever say that.”

“We expect that it’ll grow every year, in graduates and attendees, once it’s established as an annual ceremony. So far we’ve only heard positive feedback from everyone,” Higgins said. “We had quite a few higher up members of the faculty there, and they all loved the commencement.

“We’re all really grateful for the support we’ve received and hope the event continues to do well and recognize great students,” she added.

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