University holds ‘lavender graduation’ to celebrate LGBT+ students. Straight, white Americans will have to wait until 2021
A Lutheran university in Minnesota is shaking up its schedule for graduation, prioritising its students that are LGBT+, of colour or international.
St Olaf College, like many around the world, has to to put off its graduation ceremonies until next year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But the university’s Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion has announced that three virtual graduation ceremonies will go ahead.
The “multicultural, international and lavender” graduations will take place in May, and are intended for domestic students of colour, international students, and LGBT+ students, respectively. All other students must wait until 2021.
According to Campus Reform, the Taylor Center said in an email announcing the graduations: “This event acknowledges the value and uniqueness of students’ experience and serves to commemorate and highlight the accomplishments of individuals within their familial and cultural context.”
Although most would think that lifting up and celebrating minority groups in education is a good thing, there were of course some people that were unhappy with the decision.
Right-wing Fox News host Pete Hegseth took to Twitter to complain about the news, claiming it was “racism” and the “insanity of the left”.
This is the INSANITY of the LEFT.
They think this kind of racism — separate and unequal — is “justice.” https://t.co/Dwae0UPjAC
— Pete Hegseth (@PeteHegseth) April 23, 2020
Political commentator Alyssa Ahlgren added: “When you’re so ‘woke’ that you’re racist, discriminatory, non-inclusive, and bigoted.”
One of her followers agreed: “Woke and racism go hand in hand. You can’t find anyone more racist than leftist.”
— Alyssa Ahlgren (@AlyssaRuza) April 23, 2020
One Twitter user offered a problematic solution: “Straight, white American students at St Olaf should host their own virtual graduation ceremony.”
— ???? ? †hê gïrl (@NewYearsDani) April 23, 2020
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The Taylor Center has held multicultural and international graduations multiple times before, but only began holding the Lavender Graduation Celebration ceremony last year, even providing LGBT+ students lavender cords to wear with their gowns.
Asisstant director for wellness, gender and sexuality Jon Mergens told the Manitou Messenger in 2019: “Celebrating the accomplishments and recognising the work of our students is as important as advocating and rallying around social justice and change.”