A graduation ceremony just for members of the College of Staten Island's LGBT community is not seen as a good idea by some LGBT students at the school. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
The College of Staten Island campus is relatively quiet. Classes are done, finals are wrapping up and graduation is just around the corner.
But an email blast sent to the entire student body offering a special graduation ceremony just for members of the school's LGBTQ community has some students fired up.
"I thought the only possible reason for having a separate ceremony would be to keep the families separate, to say that straight families don't have to be near gay families and see that sort of interaction in front of them," said graduate student Heather-Lynn Scheffner. "I really found it very incendiary, just trying to hide this community."
The email from CSI says it's trying to do just the opposite.
The invitation to the May 31 ceremony reads, in part, "This event...provides an opportunity for our community to come together and honor those among us who have worked to make CSI a better place for LGBTQ people."
CSI says the so-called Lavender graduation is in addition to the campus-wide graduation, not instead of it. They added that the idea came from the campus LGBTQ club.
One gay student who didn't want to be identified said the intentions were good but doesn't support the ceremony.
"After five decades of fighting for equality and trying to pass the message that we deserve to be treated the same, to have a separate ceremony is defeatist," the student said.
Lavender graduations have been around since the mid-1990s. Three students attended the first ceremony.
Today, a group that keeps track of them says dozens of them take place all over the country, including for the first time at CSI.
"It's something that they should do themselves, with their own money, their own resources," said student Jeremy Haire. "Maybe not so much campus property. That's something that the school the academic setting should not be dealing with."
Still, CSI says it is committed to diversity and respect of all its students and future events that celebrate them.