For members of the LGBTQ community, three colors characterize Elon University graduation: the typical maroon and gold, in addition to lavender for their own celebration.

Lavender Graduation is an event specifically for LGBTQ students to celebrate their accomplishments and presence on campuses. The event occurs annually throughout the United States, but this is the first year that Elon will participate.  The event is being sponsored by the LGBTQ office, who is hoping to have more events like this for these students in future school years, according to Kristin Ringelberg, coordinator of the LGBTQ office.

“The lavender represents the LGBTQ community whereas the rainbow represents spirituality,” said Raafe Purnsley, a member of Spectrum and a graduating senior.

Ringelberg helped bring the commemoration to campus this year.

“This is a celebration of their identity,” she said. “We want them to come together and celebrate who they are.”

The graduation will feature PowerPoint slides from each of the participating students, as well as certificates and rainbow tassels for each of the graduates.

Jess McDonald, a senior history and sociology major, said she wanted the annual graduation to be brought to Elon’s campus after she witnessed it at Duke University’s campus last year.

“It’s a good way for the students to be recognized,” McDonald said.

[box]Lavender Graduation What: Celebrating the accomplishments of the graduating LGBTQ community When: 4 - 6 p.m. Sunday, May 13 Where: Isabella Cannon Room How: RSVP to if you plan to attend[/box]

The graduation will also feature a number of speakers, including Steven House, provost and vice president for academic affairs, as well as Rhonda Robinson, Purnsley’s mother.

“This graduation will give the students a sense of unity,” Purnsley said. “It represents the university recognizes queer students, and the students recognize themselves.

The Lavender Graduation is open to all LGBTQ students who have graduated in December 2011 or will graduate in May 2012, as well as their friends and family.