Del Mar College’s Safe Space Club hopes to bring the first Lavender Ceremony at this semester’s graduation.
A Lavender Ceremony honors lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and ally students and acknowledges their achievements and contributions to their college or university. It was created by Ronni Sanlo, a Jewish lesbian keynote speaker in LGBT communities, who was denied the opportunity to attend the graduations of her biological children because of her sexual orientation.
Encouraged by the dean of students at the University of Michigan, Sanlo designed the first Lavender Graduation Ceremony in 1995 at the University of Michigan, with three graduates. By 2001, there were over 45 Lavender Ceremonies at colleges and universities nationwide.
Gilbert Baker, a gay rights activist, designed the first rainbow flag that became a worldwide symbol of LGBT pride. During the 2016 presidential election, Baker added a ninth color, lavender, to symbolize diversity.
Sofia Jimenez, Safe Space Club president, researched the Lavender Ceremony to see if it’s something Del Mar could do.
“The only thing I didn’t like about it was they hold a separate ceremony,” Jimenez said. “I think the whole point of being accepted is to be accepted and be inclusive with everything. I do plan to hopefully bringing that to this campus, but I do not want a separate graduation for the LGBT community.”
Jimenez had never heard of the ceremony before, so she wanted to get educated on it to see exactly what the program does and what it entails.
“I don’t want it to come off like we’re trying to be special in some way, but I also want to acknowledge the struggle that we deal with,” Jimenez said. “I’m hoping to either have a special sash or cord for them, but to also see if we can acknowledge them when they’re announced.”
Beverly Cage, director of Student Leadership and Campus Life, agrees that the ceremony is not inclusive, but believes Jimenez could make this happen.
“A lot of clubs create their owns sashes and cords for graduation, so it’s definitely something that’s doable,” Cage said. “A separate graduation would be out of our hands, but I would suggest to have a ceremony for the group. There is a group we do a separate ceremony for [Sigma Alpha Pi] to acknowledge them as leaders.”
Jimenez said she feels the importance of the ceremony is to get acceptance.
“I don’t want to cross a line to make it seem like we’re better,” Jimenez said. “That’s not the point. Just like we acknowledge someone who got Honor Roll or all A’s; this is something they’ve been through and struggled with. I want to make sure it’s something celebrated and not looked on in a negative way.”