Boy Scouts of America revokes troop’s charter over gay leader


Geoff McGrath displays a vintage Boy Scout Handbook given him as a gift by one of the boys in the Seattle troop he led in Bellevue, Wash. The Boy Scouts of America has revoked the charter of a Seattle church because it allowed a gay adult to continue leading a troop. A Boy Scouts of America attorney told Rainier Beach United Methodist Church last week that it could no longer host troops under the Boy Scout name. (Elaine Thompson/AP)

The Boy Scouts of America has revoked the charter of a church that refuses to fire its openly gay scoutmaster.

The Scouts organization, which voted last year to allow gay youth but not gay adult leaders, announced it would ban scout leader and Eagle Scout Geoffrey McGrath, 49, a few weeks ago after he spoke about his sexual orientation in a news story profiling his troop. The BSA had stated that he “deliberately injected” his sexuality into scouting.

Rainier Beach United Methodist Church in Seattle continued to stand by McGrath. As a result, the Boy Scouts barred the chapter’s Troop 98 last week from using official logos or uniforms, according to a letter it sent the chapter.

Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith said in a statement Monday to the Associated Press that “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.”

Smith said the organization has identified a new chartered group to sponsor the Boy Scouts units that were affiliated with the church. It is contacting parents and unit leaders to let them know.

But the Monica K. Corsaro, pastor of the church, told the AP and other news organizations that McGrath isn’t going anywhere, even though that may mean the youth group doesn’t have uniforms and or recite the Scout’s historical oath.

Corsaro told CNN she knew McGrath was gay when she hired him. She wasn’t making a political statement:

“We were not hiding,” she told CNN. “We are talking about real people that are being affected by a policy of discrimination … by a policy that BSA teaches, so we are just calling it out.”

And she told the BBC:

“I would really like them to honor their own bylaws to respect the religious beliefs of their chartering partners. Our religious beliefs include being accepting of all people.”

Earlier this month McGrath and Rainier Beach United Methodist Church hired an attorney. Soon after, Seattle City Council members and Mayor Ed Murray sent a letter in support of McGrath to the Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts of America. And dozens of state legislators publicly backed the ousted scoutmaster.

Disney announced it would cancel a program that allowed its employees to direct corporate donations to the Scouts, according to Human Rights Campaign. And Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar, Major League Soccer, Merck, Intel, UPS, Alcoa and AT&T also terminated partnerships because of BSA’s policy, CNN reported.

Still, Smith told the New York Times in his statement: “We have already identified a new chartered organization to sponsor the units and are contacting the parents and leaders of the units to inform them of the change.”

McGrath told the Times in a telephone interview that his group was already discussing next year’s plans.

“We’ll have to figure out a new name,” he said.

Lindsey Bever is a national news reporter for The Washington Post. She writes for the Morning Mix news blog. Tweet her: @lindseybever
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