The Boy Scouts have been a lightning rod for controversy for years over their anti-gay regulations, which once barred openly gay kids from being a part of the organization. Now, after passing a regulation last year that allows for openly gay youth, the Boy Scouts have kicked out a troop leader for being gay.
According to NBC, 49-year-old Geoff McGrath, an Eagle Scout leader of Troop 98 in Seattle’s Rainier Beach neighborhood, is believed to be the first openly gay scout leader to be removed and banned from the organization since last year’s ballot, which ruled gay youth can join, but gay adults cannot.
The BSA confirmed the news to NBC, admitting that his membership has been “revoked.”
“Our policy is that we do not ask people about their sexual orientation, and it’s not an issue until they deliberately inject it into Scouting in an inappropriate fashion,” BSA spokesman Deron Smith said in an email on Monday. Until NBC’s inquiry, “he [McGrath] hadn’t deliberately injected it into Scouting in an inappropriate fashion,” he wrote.
“We spoke with Mr. McGrath today and based on the information he provided, the National Council has revoked his registration,” Smith added.
Before being booted, McGrath believed himself to be the only openly gay Scoutleader in the nation. McGrath, who has been with his husband for 20 years, says he never hid his sexuality and that last fall he won approval to lead his own troop, despite the BSA’s ban on gay adults. However, top BSA officials said they never knew he was gay.
“It’s extremely disappointing to not be fully supported and defended in my membership,” McGrath told NBC News. “They are complaining that the problem [his status as an openly gay man] is a distraction to Scouting and they don’t seem to understand that the distraction is self-inflicted.”
However, McGrath does say that the BSA, ironically, prepared him to deal with life struggles like this, and he hopes that his decision to live as a proud out man and to start an inclusive troop does something to make the world and the BSA a better, more open place for the LGBT community.
“Mostly it’s about ending the silence,” said McGrath, speaking out about gay and lesbian concerns in Scouting “doesn’t mean drowning out the other issues,” he added. “It means becoming an equal participant with everyone else. That’s all.”
It’s a shame that the BSA is still holding onto archaic and discriminatory beliefs about sexuality. Instead of teaching young boys how to be upstanding human beings in a complete sense, they’re continuing to teach them that being humane and decent only applies to people who look and act just like you. And that sounds like the antithesis of everything the BSA claims it wants to instill in its members. – nicholas robinson