University hosting inaugural Lavender Graduation

April 24, 2024
Commencement ceremony

Fitchburg State University’s Gay Straight Alliance will hold its inaugural Lavender Graduation ceremony on Monday, April 29, honoring LGBTQIA+ students who will be graduating from the university this semester.

The first Lavender Graduation Ceremony was created by playwright, author and LGBT historian Dr. Ronni Sanlo, who was denied the opportunity to attend the graduations of her biological children because of her sexual orientation. Encouraged by the Dean of Students at the University of Michigan, Dr. Sanlo designed the first Lavender Graduation Ceremony in 1995, which had three graduates. Today there are more than 500 colleges and universities nationwide hosting such celebrations.

Graduating students, including undergraduates and graduates, are invited to take part in the celebration, which typically occurs the week prior to university-wide commencement events. At Fitchburg State, the graduate commencement ceremony will be held Thursday, May 16, and the undergraduate commencement ceremony will be held Saturday, May 18.

Keynote speakers at Fitchburg State’s Lavender Graduation will include Vice President of Student Affairs Laura A. Bayless; Associate Professor DeMisty Bellinger-Delfeld; Associate Director of Student Development Shane Franzen; and Assistant Director for Care and Community Standards Joseph P. Flanagan. Approximately 20 students are expected to participate, and all will be offered lavender stoles to wear at their formal commencement ceremonies.

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