Ithaca College students who are members of or allies to the LGBTQ community will be honored April 12 at the Rainbow Reception. At the ceremony, students will receive rainbow cords and shoals to wear with their caps and gowns on graduation day. Hundreds of students in the Class of 2019 plan to attend and will be honored at this
This is a considerable change from the college’s first Rainbow Reception held 17 years ago, a ceremony in which only six students chose to be recognized. Although the number of LGBTQ students on campus was likely not too different from what it is today, the social and political climates in 2002 were much less accepting of LGBTQ people than they are today. The first Rainbow Reception was actually created by a student whose family did not accept them for being a member of the LGBTQ community, an experience that contributed to some of the ceremony’s current resources like “stand-in parents” for students whose families will not be attending. The event is also entirely inclusive — any student who would like to participate can fill out a form to receive a cord.
The implementation and growth of the Rainbow Reception are emulative of the college’s efforts to make itself a welcoming place for LGBTQ students, especially those of the Center for LGBT Education, Outreach and Services. Luca Maurer, director of the LGBT Center, who has attended every Rainbow Reception since its beginning, said he has been able to watch the environment of the ceremony become more accepting each year. The college still has work to do in terms of increasing inclusivity, and some students have reported experiencing exclusion for being a part of the LGBTQ community in recent years, but this ceremony marks an important occasion of embracement for the campus community.
The steady increase of students who are comfortable with expressing themselves in all facets of their identities should be celebrated. A crucial component of this comfort is visibility, which is precisely why the college should continue to host and promote events, like the Rainbow Reception, that actively recognize the achievements and experiences of its LGBTQ students.