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Lavender Graduation – The importance of representation

Lark Pernette and Juan Morales at Lavender Graduation (Photo Credit Christopher Lewis)
Lark Pernette and Juan Morales at Lavender Graduation (Photo Credit Christopher Lewis)

On April 26, 2024, SUNY Brockport held its fifth annual Lavender Graduation. The Lavender Graduation recognizes the SUNY Brockport LGBTQIA+ graduates and alumni for their many accomplishments and achievements while on campus.  

Assistant Professor in Women & Gender Studies Dr. Bek Orr goes into great detail about what makes this event so important to the LGBTQIA+ community on campus along those who are allies. 

“I think one of the most important things is the extended history of the Lavender graduation. It started in 1970, meaning it’s been around for a while,” says Orr. “I think that it’s just a really important and a good opportunity to celebrate our graduates and particularly to celebrate our LGBTQIA+ students who usually have to struggle through some extra things and overcome some additional barriers to get to graduation.” 

Despite the importance of the event, not much can be said about the promotion here on campus. 

“I think some outreach in classrooms could be helpful, for example, you oftentimes have the study abroad folks come in and talk about the study abroad program. So, I think that might be one way. The strongest way to promote the event would be through our Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity here on campus, which can do some more promotional work for it. I think every faculty member and staff member should be telling their students to interact with it, plugging it a little bit more and encouraging them to sign up if they want,” says Orr. 

Besides the lack of promotion on campus, many students still attended the event. 

Graduate student Lark Pernette and senior Juan Morales are just two out of the many SUNY Brockport students that attended the Lavender Graduation. 

“I am really happy to hear that SUNY Brockport is doing this type of celebration, I transferred here for my graduate program, and I am excited to be a part of this event when I graduate in the coming years,” says Pernette.   

Juan Morales is a part of the ceremony and is excited to be at Lavender Graduation. 

“I will be walking the stage come May, and because of events like this I feel more excepted by my community, and I hope to see traditions like this continue and grow bigger even when I am no longer here,” says Morales.  

As society progresses towards greater acceptance and equality, events like these remind us of the importance of honoring and uplifting every member of our diverse community.  

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