The Boy Scouts of America Revoke a Troop’s Charter for Refusing to Fire Gay Leader
This past week, The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) discovered that the scoutmaster of a Boy Scout troop in Seattle, Washington was openly gay.
They ordered the leader to be fired, and when the United Methodist Church that sponsored them refused to comply, they revoked the church’s Boy Scout charter.
The BSA ordered Geoff McGrath be dismissed from his position as scoutmaster of troop 98. According to NBC news, BSA doesn’t ask about it the sexual orientation of its members but found that McGrath “deliberately injected [his sexual orientation] into Scouting in an inappropriate fashion” because he responded honestly in a news article to a question about his sexual orientation.
Only last year, the BSA lifted the ban on gay youth members. However, their policy still doesn’t allow adults who identify as homosexual to be members. Specifically, the policy states:
“While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.”
The LGBT-inclusive United Methodist Church that hosted the troop chose not to fire McGrath and supported him instead.
As documented in these letters between the legal representation of both the church and the BSA, the church’s charter was revoked because they were “in violation of the charter agreement and the policies of Boy Scouts of America.” As a result, the troop and the church can no longer use the BSA logos or programs.
Despite this, the church has decided to continue the troop as a separate youth group. The church and community members find it important to have a troop that is all-inclusive, and as McGrath says of sexual orientation in relation to Scouting in NBC’s article, “Mostly it’s about ending the silence. It means becoming an equal participant with everyone else. That’s all.”