By Timothy Lane
April 29, 2023
Lavender Graduation, a ceremony honoring LGBTQIA+ students graduating from the four Peralta Community College District (PCCD) campuses, will take place on Friday, May 5, at 3 p.m. in the Laney College Theater Auditorium. The event’s theme, “Rise Up, Stronger Together,” will celebrate the strengths and accomplishments of LGBTQIA+ students.
Program speakers will include Laney College President Rudy Besikoff, PCCD Interim Chancellor Jannett Jackson, and Laney College Gender & Sexuality Alliance President Cyrus Paris. The keynote address will be given by Christián González Reyes, an instructor in the Modern Languages and English departments at Laney College.
The ceremony is modeled after similar student group graduation ceremonies at PCCD and throughout the California State University and University of California systems. Attendees of the ceremony will receive a pin, a stoll, and a lavender tassel to wear at their individual campus’s graduation ceremonies later in May. Each graduate will be called by name up to the stage to receive a Certificate of Completion from Laney Student Activities and Campus Life director Atiya Rashada.
Angela Torres-Moreno of Laney College’s Student Services and Campus Life (SACL) program is leading the organization and planning of the event. She said the support from PCCD faculty, administration, and students has been “super gratifying.”
Torres-Moreno noted that LGBTQIA+ students are working to overcome multiple social challenges related to sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression including not being “out” to friends and family members, not feeling comfortable being publicly identified as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, and feeling threatened by anti-LGBTQIA+ statements prevalent in the media and politics.
Torres-Moreno explained that the SACL declined the district’s offer for video coverage of the event due to these concerns for graduates’ comfort and safety.
In an email response to The Citizen, Mark Johnson, PCCD’s Executive Director of Marketing, Communications, and Public Relations, offered support and congratulations on behalf of Chancellor Jannett Jackson.
“We’re thrilled to see the Laney College Lavender Project and its welcoming spirit of inclusivity for people who identify as LGBTQIA+ spread to the other colleges and look forward to the first district-wide Lavender Graduation celebration on May 5th. Congratulations to everyone who will be participating!” Johnson wrote.
Graduates and their guests were required to register for the event by April 14. Members of the Peralta community and the public interested in supporting Lavender Graduation as event volunteers may contact Angela Torres-Moreno by email, email@example.com.