MANASSAS, Va. – “Lavender graduations” and celebrations—commencement-related events intended exclusively for homosexual students and their “allies”—continued this year on Catholic campuses, despite confusing students about Catholic teaching and acceptance of homosexual behavior.
In April, Pope Francis addressed the problems with “gender theory” and urged acceptance of sexuality as male and female:
As we all know, sexual difference is present in so many forms of life, in the long scale of the living. However, only in man and in woman does it bear in itself the image and likeness of God…Man and woman are [the] image and likeness of God!
… Modern and contemporary culture has opened new areas, new freedoms and new depths for the enrichment of the understanding of this difference. However, it has also introduced many doubts and much skepticism. For instance, I wonder, for example, if the so-called gender theory is not also an expression of a frustration and of a resignation, which aims to cancel the sexual difference because it no longer knows how to address it. Yes, we risk taking a step backward. The removal of the difference, in fact, is the problem, not the solution. To resolve their problems of relation, man and woman must instead talk more to one another, listen more to one another, know one another more, love one another more.
This year, the Society found that at least eight Catholic colleges are hosting or have hosted lavender graduations and celebrations.
The College of Saint Rose in Albany, N.Y., held its annual “lavender reception” on April 19 in Saint Joseph Hall on campus. The event was co-hosted by the College’s Office of Intercultural Leadership. Attendees were reportedly granted “the chance to cross the lavender stage to celebrate your success and to receive a Lavender certificate as well as a rainbow tassel.”
DePaul University in Chicago, Ill., will host its annual lavender graduation and awards ceremony on May 27 in conjunction with a month-long dedication to LGBTQA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, asexual, ally) issues. According to a University advertisement, the month includes an amateur drag show, a professional drag show, and a lecture on “perception and gender entitlement.”
Georgetown University hosted its annual lavender graduation on April 22 in the Healey Family Student Center. The event’s keynote speaker was Mark Dybul, the openly gay executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and an advocate of condoms, and Georgetown President John DeGioia opened the event. On a University page, DeGioia is quoted as stating that the annual lavender ceremony now “marks the beginning of the Commencement season” at Georgetown.
Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Calif., celebrated its fifth annual lavender graduation on May 2 at the University’s Lawton Plaza. The event was touted as an opportunity for LGBT students to “leave the university with a positive last experience of the institution, thereby encouraging them to become involved mentors for current students as well as contributing alumni.”
Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga, Calif., hosted its ninth annual “lavender graduate celebration” on May 14 in De La Salle Hall. According to the College’s description, the celebration “honor[s] the importance of overcoming barriers within higher education and affirm[s] the different paths that lead to academic success.”
Santa Clara University’s annual lavender graduation will be held on June 4, according to the Facebook page of the University’s Rainbow Resource Center. In the past, the Center has hosted events such as a “Queer Film Festival” and a weekly bible study which “reads the Bible from queer perspectives.” The lavender graduation will take place on campus at the Kennedy Commons.
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Seattle University’s annual lavender celebration will take place on June 12 and includes an awards ceremony to “thank outstanding members of the Seattle University community for promoting a welcoming and affirming climate for LGBTQ individuals and community.”
One of these awards, the “Sylvia Rivera Award for Queer Activism” will be awarded to an individual who “educates the Seattle University community on important LGBTQI related issues.” An award for “advancing inclusion in academic life” is given to a University faculty member “who has demonstrated a commitment to inclusion of LGBTQ perspectives in the classroom through teaching, curriculum development, expansion of degree programs, or advocacy on campus.” An award for “advancing inclusion in campus life” is awarded to a staff member who creates “a more welcoming and affirming climate at Seattle University.” Finally, an award for “outstanding group leadership” is presented to a group that has “promote[d] visibility, acceptance, and awareness of Queer needs, issues, and concerns at Seattle University, including the promotion of diversity and social justice.”
The University of San Francisco (USF) will host its annual lavender graduation ceremony on May 20 in the Handlery Room, according to the University’s Gender & Sexuality Center. The Center’s homepage links to a news article touting the University’s participation in the annual San Francisco Pride March. “We want people to see that USF is a space that is equitable and comfortable for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) people, and we work hard to make that image a reality,” a USF alumni reportedly stated.
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