Registration Extended 'til May 30: SOMA Celebrates 2024 Lavender Graduation, June 13 at Maplewood Middle School

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Annual ceremony is held in schools and communities across the country to honor and celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, queer, asexual, intersex, and allied students, and to acknowledge their achievements and contributions in school and community. The community is welcome to attend

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From New Jersey Safe Schools Coalition:

MAPLEWOOD / SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – The Township of Maplewood along with South Orange Village and South Orange Maplewood School District along with CHS Spectrum Club and New Jersey Safe Schools Coalition to honor local LGBTQIA+ and allied High School Graduating Seniors from the class of 2024.

As part of annual June Pride Month Celebrations across MAPSO and Essex County, the Township of Maplewood and South Orange are again partnering with South Orange Maplewood School District (SOMSD) and community partners to present our annual SOMA Lavender Graduation 2024 in person on June 13, 2024 at 6:00pm in the Maplewood Middle School Auditorium in Maplewood, New Jersey. Change in location is due to construction at CHS. Special guests to be announced.

“The relentless attacks on the LGBTQI+ community this year, particularly against Trans youth are horrific. We reaffirm our commitment to be an inclusive and affirming place for all LGBTQI+ people, especially young people. We look forward to celebrating and honoring the hard work and successes of LGBTQI+ Youth and stand in solidarity with our community partners to recognize their contributions to our society.” – Dean Dafis, Township of Maplewood Committeeman, former Mayor, first openly LGBTQ+ Maplewood Township Committee Member.

“All students deserve welcoming inclusive safe schools and I want all LGBTQIA Youth to know that they matter and we celebrate you. You are loved. You belong. You are not alone.” – Shannon Cuttle, former First Vice President South Orange Maplewood Board of Education, New Jersey Safe Schools Coalition.

Lavender Graduation is an annual ceremony held in many schools and communities across the country to honor and celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, queer, asexual, intersex, and allied students, and to acknowledge their achievements and contributions in school and community.

The first MAPSO Lavender Graduation was held in 2017 and marked the first known townships and public school district celebration in New Jersey. The first Lavender Graduation ceremony was originally founded at the University of Michigan in 1995.

“I salute our LGBTQI+ students participating in the Lavender Graduation as people who are seen, loved, and who make us all very proud. They remind us that being our best selves begins with having pride in ourselves. As I celebrate our LGBTQI+ students, I am mindful that we must never cease in our efforts to be a more inclusive and equitable school district.” – Dr. Kevin Gilbert, Acting Superintendent of the South Orange Maplewood School District.

“We are truly a special community when it comes to supporting our LGBTQIA+ students. I hope they know this and feel our love. We are proud of their accomplishments and our commitment to this yearly graduation tradition reinforces that Visibility Matters. Always.” – Sheena Collum, South Orange Village Mayor.

“We are committed to our rainbow community and supporting our LGBTQIA+ students and families. As a parent of a LGBTQIA+ identified child, I want our students to know they are seen, they are loved and we as a community stand with you.” – Nancy Adams, Township of Maplewood Mayor

What happens at Lavender Graduation?
LGBTQIA+ and allied high school graduating senior students that register will be acknowledged with a certificate and with rainbow honor cords and a rainbow tassel.

What are the requirements to apply for SOMA Lavender Graduation?
Must be a 2024 high school graduating senior. Does not have to be a SOMSD student.

I am a graduating high school senior. How can I register?
Please complete the google doc application at the link below:

https://forms.gle/eNYdpu3XUjtdyPr18

Please note that registration will close on May 23, 2024.

Further details will be sent out once registration is complete. For further questions please contact New Jersey Safe Schools Coalition at newjerseysafeschools@gmail.com

Can the public attend?

Yes, we encourage the community to come out in support of our Lavender Graduates! We look forward to celebrating our graduates!

Thank you to our supporters:

CHS Spectrum Club, Co-Advisors, Beth Johnson, Kelly Murphy
Township of Maplewood
Village of South Orange
Township of Maplewood Committeeman, former Mayor, Dean Dafis
Former South Orange Maplewood Board of Education First Vice President, Shannon Cuttle
South Orange Maplewood Board of Education
South Orange Maplewood School District
Essex County Office of LGBTQ Affairs, Director Reggie Bledsoe
Maplewood Division of Arts and Culture
New Jersey Safe Schools Coalition

 

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