Graduating seniors will be taking their final steps as students in their Carolina Blue cap and gowns and some with a dash of lavender.
On May 5, the UNC-CH LGBTQ Center will host its 13th annual Lavender Graduation for LGBTQ-identifying students or students graduating with a minor in sexuality studies at the Sonja Haynes Stone Center.
Junior Sophia Hutchens said she will be attending the graduation in support of her best friend.
“The years of effort and work wouldn’t be recognized anywhere else,” Hutchens said.
Hutchens is the social justice chairperson with the Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA) on campus. SAGA and the LGBTQ Center often work together to help LGBTQ-identifying students feel included and welcome in their collegiate space.
Hutchens noticed that all the different school departments had their own graduation ceremonies.
“So it makes sense to me that there is one for queer students as well,” Hutchens said.
At the Lavender Graduation, students are announced with their chosen names and are also given the opportunity to make a personal speech. Mariel Eaves, the LGBTQ Center's administrative support specialist, said that’s what makes the graduation even more special.
“The idea is to have a ceremony or have a way to celebrate folks who are graduating, that also affirms their identities that may or may not be affirmed by like their family or their departments,” Eaves said.