Texas A&M’s GLBT Resource Center, which has survived repeated attacks by the Aggie Student Senate in recent years, will host the school’s first-ever Lavender Graduation later this month.
The keynote speaker at the commencement celebration for LGBT Aggies will be A&M alum Phyllis Frye, a pioneering Texas activist who is the state’s first transgender judge.
The ceremonial event on April 16 is be separate from regular graduation in May, where some LGBT Aggies reportedly plan to wear rainbow tassles.
“It’s a place for GLBT students to celebrate their accomplishments here on campus and celebrate their graduation in a friendly environment and to also recognize their achievements that wouldn’t be normally a part of the traditional graduation,” GLBT Resource Center graduate assistant Megan Caldwell told the Battalion student newspaper. “This is in addition to regular graduation. These students will maybe be talking about their involvement in the GLBT student organizations or scholarships they’ve gotten or other contributions to the community.”
Last April, the Texas A&M Student Senate passed a bill that would have allowed students to opt out of funding the GLBT Resource Center with their activity fees if they had religious objections. Although the bill was vetoed by the student body president, it marked the second time in as many years that the Student Senate tried to cut funding for the GLBT Resource Center — and on both occasions, there were parallel attacks against campus LGBT resource centers in the Texas Legislature.
So, it really comes as no surprise that some Texas A&M students are speaking out against plans for the Lavender Graduation.
“I just don’t see the necessity,” Joseph Francis, a senior history major at the university, told Campus Reform. “Why should certain students be celebrated ‘more’ just because of their sexuality? I could also see it as somewhat demeaning … what if there was a ‘special graduation ceremony’ for disabled people, or black people, or white people? The student body is diverse, and that’s a great thing which should be commended, but I don’t see how a ceremony like this merits endorsement by the university.”
“Texas A&M should not be using mandatory student fees to support a GLBT Resource Center, which is used to push a one-sided sexual worldview,” Chris Woolsey, a junior political science major at Texas A&M told Campus Reform. “This Lavender Graduation is one such example of Texas A&M using student money for political activism.”