Boy Scouts Remove Gay Leader in Seattle
by Brig Bagley
2 April 2014
Geoff McGrath was invited to be a troop leader in Seattle for Rainier Beach United Methodist Church by its pastor. He was said to be the most qualified, and his activism for gay rights was a non-issue to the pastor, the parents, and the kids. After mentioning being gay during a media interview, the BSA sent McGrath a letter revoking his leadership, saying it was against BSA policy to permit it.
McGrath said he didn't try to hide being gay, and that he and the pastor were transparent in the application for the troop. He believed that headquarters was experimenting with new leadership ideas when he was initially permitted to lead. Representatives of BSA reported that sexual preference is not a conversation to be had in scouting. Boys are permitted to be openly gay in troops, but gay leaders are prohibited.
Both McGrath and his husband of 6 years are Eagle Scouts. McGrath came out in 1988 at the age of 23. He expected his relationship with BSA to end, but was shocked to be placed as a leader. With that role stripped from him now, the publicity is bound to put even more pressure on headquarters to further revise its policies to end discrimination against gays: minors and adults.
Scouting is commonly looked back as some of the more enjoyable experiences for men, whether gay or straight. Prohibiting boys and men that wish to continue the experiences into the future for attributes like sexuality that are not a choice is unfair. BSA is right to say sexuality is not a discussion for scouting, but that doesn't mean it can restrict participation based on it.