The Pride Center will hold the Lavender Graduation ceremony on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in Memorial Auditorium to celebrate LGBTQ+ students in the class of 2021. A reception will follow in the Academic Quad from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
“All students, including cisgender heterosexual students, are welcome to partake in the celebration,” the Pride Center website said.
Pride Center Director Alithia Zamatakis said Lavender Graduation is not just a celebration for earning a degree but a celebration of overall achievements.
“Really it’s about celebrating the facts that they are here, they have worked as hard as they have to exist and thrive in this space and to survive this space despite the oppression they face and to really celebrate that they deserve to be here,” Zamatakis said.
Students might feel obligated to invite their given family to their university graduation even if they do not necessarily want to. Lavender Graduation allows students to choose who celebrates with them while being their full-self, Zamantakis said.
While Lavender Graduation is based more on recognition and does not present diplomas, Zamantakis said, students will receive a certificate with their preferred name and their degree(s) along with lavender cords and a lavender rose.
The dress code is up to the individual, students are free to wear their robes and hoods, dress formally or go casually. Zamantakis said the open dress code keeps students from being restricted.
“It’s important to me that they don’t feel like they are restricted to professional standards that are very raced and gendered and classed,” Zamantakis said.
Lavender Graduation will feature keynote speaker Xavier Garcia-Molina, a 26-year-old Puerto Rican queer activist and city counselor in Lancaster. Two student speakers who are Pride Center interns will speak at the ceremony. SU President Laurie Carter will also attend the ceremony, Zamantakis said.
Lavender Graduations were started in the 1990s by Ronni Sanlo, a Jewish lesbian because she was kept from attending her children’s college graduation ceremony because of her sexual orientation, according to the Pride Center website. The first Lavender Graduation at SU was in 2017 iniated by Andrew Melendez, a graduate counseling student.
Students can register for Lavender Graduation at ship.edu/life/resources/pride/lavender-graduation/.