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The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will host its first Lavender Graduation event to celebrate the success of LGBTQ students.

Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator Adam Gonzales said this event is meant to be a time to highlight the LGBTQ community at Northwest.

“The Lavender Graduation is going in the spirit of multicultural celebration of student success,” Gonzales said. “We are going to do the Lavender Graduation which is focused on celebrating the achievements of our graduating LGBTQIA (intersex, asexual/ally) students.”

According to hrc.org, lavender is a significant color throughout the history of the LGBTQ community. Gay men were forced to wear pink triangles in concentration camps while black triangles labeled lesbian women as political prisoners in Nazi Germany.

The combination of the pink and black triangles by LGBTQ civil rights activist made lavender. Lavender is supposed to represent community and pride.

The Lavender Graduation is open to all self-identifying LGBTQ students. There will be a dinner celebration 6 p.m. May 1, in the Union Ballroom. Graduating LGBTQ students are encouraged to invite their family, friends and significant others.

During the ceremony, these students will receive lavender stoles. They have the option of wearing it during commencement.

Former President of HERO, senior Trip Carlson, said Lavender Graduation shows the community that they should be celebrated instead of tolerated.

“We’re molded to hide away queer identification, which is why coming out is taking your true self and putting yourself out there for the world to see,” Carlson said. “It’s really important to show that we should be celebrated, visible and welcomed and not just tolerated. Toleration is a really low bar to put on a community that has gone through so much.”

Gonzales said the Lavender Graduation happens on other college campuses across the country and DEI decided to bring it to Northwest.

“It’s a way to acknowledge their achievements because, for a lot of LGBTQIA people, there are some challenges they face that other student populations don’t,” Gonzales said. “We want to be able to honor them and have a moment they can celebrate with their significant others.”

The Lavender Graduation will happen every year and is offered in the fall semesters.

Gonzales said the Lavender Graduation will be positive and demonstrates a sense of belonging.

“It’s going to remind LGBTQ students that they belong and are welcomed here,” Gonzales said. “I want us to be able to provide a space where they can be recognized even if they’re not fully out. This is going to be a ceremony where hopefully we can provide that space for them to say, ‘Hey, this is who I am, and I’m glad to be recognized.’”

Senior Arlondo Watson said this is a moment of recognition for students who may not get enough acknowledgment.

“This is a huge impact, especially if we take into consideration what is going on in society regarding the LGBTQ community,” Watson said. “They aren’t recognized. It’s nice that Northwest is taking advantage of this moment by recognizing all of those students.”

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