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Supporting our Students at Lavender Graduation 

In 2015, UAlbany was named one of the most LGBTQ-friendly campuses in the nation. 

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 13, 2016) – The University at Albany celebrates LGBTQ+ and Allied graduates at its eighth annual Lavender Graduation today, featuring speaker Denise Norris. The event will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom.

Norris, who will be honored with the Harvey Milk Alumnus Award, is a former UAlbany student and transgender woman who has advocated for transgender equality for nearly 25 years.

“The Lavender Awards are particularly special because they are chosen by LGBTQ+ and Allied students, faculty and staff to recognize other student, faculty and staff contributions to diversity and inclusion at UAlbany,” said Coordinator of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC) Courtney D’Allaird.

When Norris arrived at UAlbany in 1980 as a freshman from Garden City, Long Island, she was 6-foot-4 Dave Norris, according to a 2012 Times Union article. It was a hostile environment for transgendered people at the time, and Norris went through her struggle with gender identity alone, remaining closeted while sharing a suite with male roommates at Dutch Quad. There were none of the psychological or social support services for LGBTQ+ students that exist today. Norris’s academic career suffered as a result, and she dropped out of school as a sophomore.

In 1993, Norris co-founded The Transexual Menace, the first large direct action group for transgender rights. She established the Institute for Transgender Economic Advancement in 2014, and is a leading pioneer of transgender issues in the workplace. She has more than two decades of experience as an IT/management consultant to several Fortune 500 corporations and gives talks on how companies can prosper by recruiting workers from the LGBTQ+ community.

In 2012, Norris received the Stonewall Spirit of Pride Award from the Stonewall National Museum and Archives for her contributions to the transgender community. Her vision for the future is one in which we are no longer be separated by letters like L, G, B and T, but will become one community, united in seeking equality for all genders and orientations.

Norris spoke at the UAlbany campus in 2012 and returns again triumphantly to a campus that has changed dramatically since she first enrolled. In 2015, UAlbany was named one of the most LGBTQ- friendly campuses in the nation. That same year, popular actress and transgender rights activist Laverne Cox was the keynote speaker at Sexuality Week. Slain gay rights activist Harvey Milk ’51, was a UAlbany alumnus.

Faculty and staff are invited to attend today’s ceremony to show support for the graduating students. During the ceremony, graduates receive a rainbow tassel, hear from LGBTQ+ and Allied alumni, fellow graduates and are received by LGBTQ+ faculty members and allies.

During the ceremony, recipients of the Lavender Awards will be honored.

“With the GSRC serving around 2,500 students a year, this event provides a tremendous capstone to the student experience on our campus,” said D’Allaird.

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About the University at Albany
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.