Schools such as Mizzou, Brown, Harvard, and the University of Wyoming will host “lavender graduations,” according to the Human Rights Campaign.
Over 100 colleges and universities will be hosting a separate graduation ceremony for LGBTQ and ally students this spring.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, the “Lavender Graduation” (a reference to the pink triangles Nazis forced gay men to wear) will take place on at least 124 college campuses in the United States in the coming weeks.
The graduations are intended to “provide a sense of community for minority students who often experience tremendous culture shock at their impersonalized institutions.”
The HRC also says that the Lavender Graduation is often “the payoff for staying in school, and friends and families find the smaller, more ethnic ceremonies both meaningful and personal.”
The ceremony is a “cultural celebration” to recognize LGBTQ students of all races and ethnicities, and aims to encourage them to mentor their younger peers, as well as to recognize their contribution to their various universities.
The tradition began in 1995 after the founder, Ronni Sanlo, alleges she was not allowed to participate in her children’s graduation because of her sexual orientation, and has since spread to colleges and universities across the country—even Catholic institutions like Georgetown University, Accuracy in Media reports.
It has also spread to the University of Missouri (Mizzou), where Lavender Graduation has historically resembled the university’s other graduation ceremonies. The graduating students receive lavender cords and walk across a stage, and a commencement speaker is featured.
According to some past participants, awareness of the struggles LGBTQ students face—including inequality, oppression, and acts of violence—justifies the separate celebration, but one Mizzou student who identifies as bisexual told Campus Reform on condition of anonymity that he disagrees with the decision to host a separate LGBTQ ceremony.
“Graduation is meant to bring everyone in academia together to show what students were able to accomplish in their pursuit of knowledge,” the student contended. “To set up exclusive graduations for specific students I feel detracts from that.”
The student doesn’t necessarily want the ceremony to be eliminated, but does consider it unnecessary, saying, “students should want to be together for graduation, not be separated into their own small groups.”
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