Each year, Lavender Graduation celebrates graduating University of Wisconsin Oshkosh LGBTQ+ students and their achievements.
At this year’s ceremony, the College of Education and Human Services (COEHS) was recognized for its efforts to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.
COEHS received the Outstanding Department Award for its commitment to having students and staff SAFE (Students, Staff and Faculty for Equality) trained. SAFE training prepares people to be allies to the LGBTQ+ community, addressing the changing terminology in the community, the messages generated in society about LGBTQ+ lives, the coming out process and other skills necessary to being a successful ally.
Since 2008, the COEHS’s professional counseling department has been SAFE training all students who come through the program.
After a recommendation from the college’s Culture and Diversity Committee in the 2015 fall semester, the educational leadership and policy department started integrating SAFE training into Foundations of Multicultural Education—a course taken by every teacher candidate at UW Oshkosh.
“It is so important to those of us in the LGBTQ+ community to know that UW Oshkosh’s students, who will be future professional counselors, teachers and those working in so many other profit and nonprofit organizations serving our communities will have this basic knowledge of our [LGBTQ+] community and an understanding of what it means to be an ally,” Dr. Liz Cannon, LGBTQ Resource Center director, said.
The college plans to implement SAFE training for all human service leadership students soon, working toward the goal of having all COEHS students SAFE trained before graduation.
Lavender Graduation was first created by Dr. Ronni Sanlo, a Jewish lesbian, who was denied the right to attend her children’s graduation because of her sexual orientation. UW Oshkosh started celebrating Lavender Graduation on campus in 2004.
Each graduating senior honored at the celebration is introduced by a speaker of their choice who provides a short speech acknowledging the student’s academic success and leadership in social action to make the world better for LGBTQ+ people, despite the difficulties and barriers many LGBTQ+ students encounter along the way.
Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to contribute calendar items, campus announcements and other good news to UW Oshkosh Today.