Inspired by a transgender student's decision not to walk at his high school graduation when he was not allowed to wear the male graduation robe, the University of New Mexico hosts New Mexico's first graduation reception to honor high school LGBTQ and ally students. The UNM LGBTQ Resource Center hosts a Lavender High School Graduation Reception on Thursday, May 30 from 5-7 p.m. on main campus near the resource center courtyard and Scholes Hall.

The first Lavender Graduation was held in 1995 at the University of Michigan after Dr. Ronni Sanlo recognized that although there were celebrations for various ethnicities and academic groups, but no celebration to honor the achievements of the school's LGBTQ students. Since then, many colleges and universities have adopted the tradition. Lavender is important to the LGBTQ history because it is a combination of the pink triangle that designated gay men and the black triangle designating lesbians in Nazi Germany.

The keynote address will be delivered by Damian Garcia, a transgender 2013 St. Pius X High School graduate who chose not to walk at the school's graduation when school officials told him that he must wear the white graduation robe reserved for female graduates. Garcia was born female but changed his name from Brandi to Damian and has been acknowledged as a boy by his peers, teachers and family.

The UNM resource center invites all family, friends and advocates to join in celebrating the academic achievements the young LGBTQ and ally community.

UNM LGBTQ Resource Center holds a Rainbow Graduation celebrating college graduates in the community each year. This will be the first graduation reception held for local LGBTQ high school students.

All graduates are encouraged to RSVP by calling 505-277-LGBT (5428) or email

For more information contact Resource Center Director Alma Rosa Silva BaƱuelos.

Media Contact: Ethan Rule (505) 277-2322, email:

Story by Ethan Rule