Let’s rain on their parade

At issue: Southie St. Patrick’s Day Parade continues to bar LGBT groups

Our take: To support the LGBTQ community, students shouldn’t go to the parade

Martin J. Walsh has distinguished himself in his first year as mayor of Boston by pushing the popular Southie St. Patrick’s Day parade to adjust its obsolescent policy on LGBT groups. At Walsh’s suggestion, the Allied War Veterans Council initially broke with tradition to allow a group called LGBT Veterans for Equality march in the parade.

However, the invite came with the bizarre condition that members not carry signs or wear T-shirts referring to sexual orientation. And the council subsequently revoked the invitation, accusing the LGBT organization MassEquality of inventing LGBT Veterans for Equality to surreptitiously inject its agenda into the parade. In response, 12 gay veterans wrote to the council disputing their claims.

There are still a few days until the parade, and we don’t yet know whether the parade will feature an LGBT presence. But regardless of the outcome, in this age of progressivism and increasing support for gay rights—particularly in Boston—it is shocking that the parade would continue this blunt and unapologetic act of exclusion. Emerson College, a school ranked by the Princeton Review as the most LGBTQ-friendly in 2013, should emphatically reject the Veterans Council’s archaic standpoint.

Yet many Emerson students make plans to attend the parade every year and experience the raucous celebration that much of the city anticipates. With dazzling green beads, confetti, and pub crawls in mind, awareness that the event is perpetuating homophobia and ostracizing a community slips out of focus.

This should be the year Emerson students pledge not to contribute to the stigmatization, alienation, and humiliation of our LGBTQ friends. As a school that acts as a haven for members of this community, Emerson has an obligation to adhere to values of equality in all settings, even beyond campus. And that these values have been compromised annually to participate in a city-approved party is regretful. By following in the mayor’s footsteps, we too can distinguish ourselves as students who take a stand of solidarity and acceptance seriously.

So instead of donning a green windbreaker, taking the green line to Boylston, and trodding down the green path to Southie, mix your car bombs from the comfort of your Allston shack. Or maybe make the trip to one of the Irish bars in the Kenmore area. But whatever your itinerary is for Sunday, plan your route to steer clear of the annual parade, and march toward a more inclusive setting.