A Catholic School announced the withdrawal of their marching band and float from the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade because of the decision to allow LGBTQ veteran group OUTVETS to also march in the parade.

In an official press release on behalf of Immaculate Heart of Mary School (IHM), Still Water, MA, Principal Brother Thomas Dalton states, “Saint Patrick stands with Saint Paul in condemning the sin of sodomy...The name of Saint Patrick should be dropped from the parade as he would have nothing to do with the likes of it today.”

The school has taken part in the parade for the past 25 years but felt “compelled by the teachings of the Catholic Church to pull out” as to include “a group openly promoting and proud of its homosexual identity would draw down the ire of this great patron of the Boston Archdiocese.”

Brother Dalton continues to state that “Catholics are forbidden to sponsor or even participate in an event which openly promotes unnatural and immoral behavior. The Church will never accept nor condone same sex marriage and the homosexual lifestyle.”

The director of the school band, Brother Peter Brackett, also commented on the decision to withdraw, admitting that although it was a disappointing decision for students taking part in the parade, it was one accepted by band members and parents. “We have to remain loyal to Church teachings which states in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, promulgated by Saint John Paul II, that ‘homosexual acts are acts of grave depravity’ and ‘are intrinsically disordered…Under no circumstances can they be approved.’”

OUTVETS is an non-political organization, a social and fraternal organization celebrating and honoring the contributions of America's LGBTQ Veterans. The group aims to establish a community among veterans within the LGBT community and and the Veteran community through social interaction and community service.

The decision to allow the group to march in the Boston parade was taken in December of last year as the parade committee voted 5-4 to allow the group’s inclusion in St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. The group are to march beneath a sign with five white stars denoting the branches of the military and six vertical rainbow stripes.

The historic decision marks the first time that an openly LGBTQ group will march in the Boston parade following a long history of controversy in which the organizers won a 1995 Supreme Court case allowing it to deny entry to groups promoting homosexuality.

When contacted by IrishCentral, OUTVETS were unaware of the school’s withdrawal and didn’t wish to comment without official confirmation. They did wish to state, however, that they are excited to be given the opportunity to not only honor the service of LGBT veterans but all veterans by taking part in the parade.

This is not the first time that IHM has taken an active role in attempting to uphold the Catholic doctrine. The school released a similar press release in 2014 in which they withdrew from the parade due to the perceived threat of an LGBT group inclusion and also withdrew in 1991 when they spoke in the Superior Court about their decision to withdraw and their admiration for the organisers, South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, “for their courageous defense of traditional family values despite vilification and sparse support.”

In the 2014 statement, IHM claim that “the historic South Boston Saint Patrick's Day Parade will go on as planned once again this year, but without a blessing from Saint Patrick, himself” and that “ in the footsteps of Saint Patrick, IHM does not condone and will not appear to condone the homosexual lifestyle.”

The decision to allow a group of gay military veterans to march under the banner of MassEquality, a Massachusetts LGBT organization, in the parade in 2014 did not come to fruition. The invitation was retracted by the organizers saying that the group’s submission had been “a ploy by them to enter this parade under false pretenses.” IHM retracted their withdrawal from the parade following this decision.

In late 2014, students from the conservative Catholic school also took to the streets outside abortion clinics to “counsel women” and created a video challenging other schools and students to join them in prayer outside what they termed as “murder on mainstreet”.

Prayer Vigil Challenge from Saint Benedict Center on Vimeo.

In 2013, the school’s marching band pulled out of the Worcester St. Patrick’s Day parade at the last minute when learning that their assigned sponsor, politician Stephen Kerrigan, was pro-life and they were also involved in the controversy surrounding the dismissal of a teacher at Marion High School when she revealed her intentions to start a nontraditional family.

The withdrawal is a further twist in the fraught relationships between the St. Patrick’s Day parades in Boston and New York and the LGBTQ community.