BOSTON, Mass.— Late last month organizers of the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in South Boston left an after-hours voicemail rejecting MassEquality’s application to participate in the 2014 parade. In doing so, organizers cited the 1995 US Supreme Court decision in Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston, which held that parade organizers are legally able to exclude openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people from participating.
Parade organizers were quoted today in a Boston Globe article (“Group claims win in breaking parade ban on gays”) clarifying that their acceptance of an application by the South Boston Association of Non-Profits (SBANP) does not signal a change of their long-standing policy of exclusion (Click here to read the story):
“We don’t know who’s gay in the parade, and we don’t ban gay people. We ban gay demonstrations, people that are sending out the wrong messages, messages that we don’t agree with.”
The SBANP was explicit in its application about its intention to include LGBTQ individuals in its marching contingent.
MassEquality Executive Director Kara Coredini issued the following statement in response:
“Since when does being open and proud of being an LGBTQ person in the City of Boston send the ‘wrong message’? It’s stunning that in 2014 a high-profile cultural institution like the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade would force LGBTQ people to retreat back into the closet in order to participate. This is just another version of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’
“While the LGBTQ community in Massachusetts faces many issues more urgent than the ability to participate openly in a parade – youth homelessness, bullying, anti-transgender discrimination, HIV/AIDS, elder abuse, and more – this kind of public rejection perpetuates a hostile climate that enables the community’s more life-threatening challenges to thrive.
“Rejection by their families is why 57% of transgender people attempt suicide and why up to 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ. According to the Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey, rejection by fellow students is why LGBTQ students are twice as likely to skip school and four times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual peers. Rejection is also why the mere fact of being an openly LGBTQ person results in higher stress and poorer health.
“We appreciate the efforts of the South Boston Association of Non-Profits and of Boston’s elected and community leaders who partner with the LGBTQ community to reverse these shocking statistics. Together, we will continue to improve lives by working for the day when openly LGBTQ people are included in all aspects of civil and social life.”
MassEquality is the leading statewide grassroots advocacy organization working to ensure that everyone across Massachusetts can thrive from cradle to grave without discrimination and oppression based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
[From a News Release]