Our View: Lavender Graduation and other LGBTQ safe spaces matter

A picture of the Multicultural Affairs Center.
The Multicultural Affairs Center will host Truman State University's first ever Lavender Graduation Ceremony.

The Multicultural Affairs Center is hosting the first annual Lavender Graduation Ceremony on Truman State University’s campus. These ceremonies are intended for students in the LGBTQ community to have a safe and positive space where they can celebrate graduation using their desired pronouns and names while dressing the way they feel most comfortable.

Getting to feel like your true self is a luxury many cisgender and heterosexual people take for granted. For members of the LGBTQ community who aren’t open with relatives attending graduation or whose family members do not support their identities, graduation ceremonies can be stressful. This divide creates a need for a safe place for LGBTQ students to celebrate graduation.

Lavender Graduation is the latest in a series of steps the University has taken to support its LGBTQ students. Starting last year, assistant professor Summer Pennell resumed Safe Zone Training on campus and hired more LGBTQ students to facilitate the process, which is important because Safe Zone Training is all about teaching students, faculty and staff about LGBTQ identities and being comfortable talking about them. Furthermore, Prism, Sigma Alpha Iota and the Student Activities Board each hosted drag shows in April. It’s fitting for Truman to conclude this LGBTQ-friendly school year with Lavender Graduation.

We, The Index Editorial Board, applaud the MAC for creating an institutionalized safe space for LGBTQ Truman students, especially for an occasion as important as graduation. Every student should feel free to celebrate milestones on their own terms. It’s not too much to ask to hear your preferred name as you cross the stage to receive your diploma, or to open that diploma and read your chosen pronouns.

Ideally, such safe spaces shouldn’t be necessary. The MAC shouldn’t have to host its own Lavender Graduation to ensure LGBTQ students aren’t misidentified. It’s disheartening that some college students, on the brink of beginning their adult lives, still cannot safely use their names and pronouns at graduation for fear of backlash.

We, The Index Editorial Board, hope other colleges will push to host their own Lavender Graduation ceremonies and Truman will continue to take more steps toward LGBTQ inclusivity.

For those interested in attending the Lavender Graduation ceremony, RSVP by Monday, April 30 at mac.truman.edu/lavgrad. Anyone is welcome to come either as a cis, straight ally or an LGBTQ graduate.