AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File
Gay Scoutmasters: "We're here! We're queer! Get u--"
Boy Scouts of America: "NOPE."
The Boy Scouts of America revoked an entire church's charter after the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church in Seattle stood by their openly gay Scoutmaster, who was supposed to be removed last month.
The troop leader in question is Geoffrey McGrath, a 49-year-old Eagle Scout. When McGrath was 22, he came out and was kicked out of his troop. Last year, BSA changed their rules to say that, "No youth may be denied membership...on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone."
The same acceptance is not extended to adults though: McGrath says that he did not hide his sexual orientation when his troop was approved (a BSA official told NBC "she never knew he was gay") and, when questioned by BSA, acknowledged it. The BSA then revoked his status.
"I have not tendered my resignation," McGrath said at the time. "Until I am relieved of my duty properly, I stand in my post."
And no one sought to relieve him. The Seattle City Council stood behind McGrath, as did more than 20 Washington legislators. But, as many of BSA's guidelines are based on religion, and the United Method Church is their second largest sponsor, his most important support came from his church: Reverend Dr. Monica Carsaro.
"Based on our religious principles, we will continue to act as an autonomous church that does not discriminate," Dr. Carsaro said. "We will continue to have our troop meetings here, every Thursday night, with business as usual."
McGrath started Troop 98 as a "fully inclusive" troop, and his sexuality was not a secret (every parent was given this information before their child joined the troop). Which may be why the BSA decided he was trying to "further a personal agenda" and disbanded the entire church's charter.
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
"We are saddened by this development, but remain committed to providing all youth with the best possible scouting experience where the scouting program is the main focus," BSA director of communications Deron Smith told Time.
Meanwhile, Geoffrey has said, "I'm stunned and disappointed to hear the news. Pastor Corsaro specifically sought out someone with my Scouting background to help get these units off the ground, and her church is now being told to violate their religious convictions. It's unconscionable and irreverent."
It's ironic too.
BSA's decision to allow gay youths, while seen as progressive, is also problematic. In February, Pascal Tessier (pictured above) successfully became the first openly gay Eagle Scout. But, as his 18th birthday is only a few months away, he risks being kicked out. "It's kind of a backhanded acceptance," he said at the time. "We accept you, for now."
And Hunter Faulhaber, another openly gay scout who achieved Eagle status last week, faces that threat even sooner: He's already 18. "If the Boy Scouts of America revokes my membership now that I'm 18, they're just taking away a title," Hunter explains.
"They can't take what I've learned and who I've become and the friends I've made," he says. "I'm fighting for every kid that's like me, that's felt like I've felt, and feels like I still feel."