Nominations open for CLGBTE Rainbow Awards

Nominations are now being accepted for the Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equity’s (CLGBTE) Rainbow Awards. Any Penn State student, faculty or staff member is eligible for the two awards, which include the Ally Recognition Award and the Outstanding Service Award. The deadline for nominations is Friday, April 18.

The awards are given each year to recognize individuals who strive to improve the climate for and who have made outstanding contributions to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community at Penn State.

Dana Carlisle Kletchka, chair of the CLGBTE and curator of education at Penn State’s Palmer Museum of Art, said the Ally Recognition Award is given to members of the Penn State community who identify themselves as allies of the LGBTQ community — often by supporting new policies or resources. The Outstanding Service Award is granted to persons who have shown extraordinary service on campus regarding LGBTQ concerns.

Last year, Penn State President Rodney Erickson was the recipient of the Ally Recognition Award for what Kletchka calls his long-term commitment to improving diversity at the University.

“Dr. Erickson has been very enthusiastic and vocal about supporting members of the LGBTQ community, as well as the CLGBTE, at Penn State,” Kletchka said. “He’s been very proactive in rallying for LGBTQ rights and resources on campus.”

Erickson was supportive of both ALLY House, a special housing program on campus for members of the LGBTQA community and also the implementation of an LGBTQ liaison at each Penn State campus.

Both a faculty member and a student were additionally recognized with Outstanding Service Awards. Kathleen Bieschke, head of the Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling and Special Education, was honored for a report on the assignment of an LGBTQ contact person at each campus. Cameron O’Mara, a doctoral student, was acknowledged for heading the CLGBTE’s Transgender Task Force and acting as an adviser to University Health Services as they made transgender-specific care available for students.

The Rainbow Awards are presented at Penn State’s annual Lavender Graduation ceremony, sponsored by the LGBTA Student Resource Center, which will take place this year at 6 p.m. Friday, May 9, in Heritage Hall at the HUB-Robeson Center.

Kletchka described Lavender Graduation as a supplemental ceremony for graduating students in the LGBTQ community and their supporters, peers, families and mentors from all Penn State campus locations.

“The ceremony is very endearing and powerful,” Kletchka said. “It gives graduating students the chance to recognize those who have been supportive of them during their time at the University. Sometimes it’s their families or significant others, but it can be anyone that has shown them support.”

The Rainbow Awards and Lavender Graduation are just two of the ways the CLGBTE is striving to improve the climate for diversity at Penn State. To nominate a student, faculty or staff member for a Rainbow Award, go to To register for Lavender Graduation, visit

Last Updated May 10, 2016