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Lavender Graduation celebrates Otterbein LGBTQIA+ students’ achievements

Lavender Graduation celebrates Otterbein LGBTQIA+ students’ achievements

As seniors prepared for commencement on April 30, LGBTQIA+ students, friends and families were recognized at Otterbein’s Lavender Graduation.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, a Lavender Graduation is “an annual ceremony conducted on numerous campuses to honor lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and ally students and to acknowledge their achievements and contributions to the University.”

Otterbein’s ceremony, held on April 24, offered an open environment for friends and family to show their support and celebrate with their loved ones in the LGBTQIA+ community.

“Lavender Graduation affirms the achievements of LGBTQIA+ graduates and their allies,” said James Prysock, director of the Otterbein Office of Social Justice and Activism. “It is a time for students to celebrate with those who have been instrumental in their journeys and, in addition, serves as a reminder of their resiliency and that they are not alone in this effort toward social justice and equity.”

At the celebration, each student receives a cord, amethyst stone and has a chance to reflect about their experience and thank their support systems. This year, 14 students were recognized at Lavender Graduation. Speakers included Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) program faculty and administrators, Otterbein administrators and members of FreeZone!, Otterbein’s LGBTQIA+ student organization and resource group.

“I've been a part of the WGSS program for two years and it’s always been such a welcoming community,” said Lavender Graduation participant Courtney Kilmer ’17. “The professors are all inspirational and supportive. It meant a lot to me to know that I’ve had that support. Lavender Graduation meant a lot because it's a safe place for people of the LGBTQIA+ community to be recognized for the impact that they've made throughout their years at Otterbein.”

Prysock believes Lavender Graduation is a wonderful event that helps bring to light the achievements of those students who can often be overlooked, but also makes sure we as a university do not settle for complacency on social issues.

“Lavender Graduation is a reminder of the continuous work that needs to be done in our community as we strive for acceptance instead of tolerance or hate, access instead of denial, and valuing instead of silencing,” said Prysock. 


See more photos from this year’s Lavender Graduation in our Flickr gallery.

Learn more about the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies program.

Follow FreeZone! on Twitter for event updates and news.