The Boy Scouts of America has disbanded a newly chartered Seattle troop because its leader is an openly gay man. Geoffrey McGrath rose through the ranks of BSA to Eagle Scout before he took the helm as troop leader at the Rainer Beach United Methodist Church last fall.
In March, BSA revoked McGrath’s membership and the parish’s authorization as a partner charter.
“My identity as a gay man has been known to my neighbors, my church congregation and my Facebook friends,” McGrath said in an op-ed for The Seattle Times.“It was known by the scouting professionals who accepted the application to form a troop.”
“For all of the respect I have for the local Scouts organization, the Chief Seattle Council, and the national Boy Scouts of America, the Scouts are obviously behind the times on this issue of equality,” wrote McGrath.
In May 2013, 1,400 leaders from the nation’s local Boy Scouts of America councils voted to end the organization’s long-standing ban on gay youth. Unfortunately, the new policy does not go far enough, leaving adult Eagle Scouts, scout leaders, and parents behind.
Currently, the BSA job application for "professional commission" explicitly says gays need not apply. The application, which comes from the BSA’s national office and appears to be in use across the country, reads: "The Boy Scouts of America will not employ atheists, agnostics, known or avowed homosexuals." The full application can be viewed here.
Rainer Beach United Methodist Church Rev. Monica Corsaro told The Seattle Times they hope the council will change its mind about the troop’s charter once former CIA Director Robert Gates take his seat as BSA’s national president. In the meantime, McGrath's group will continue to meet.