Society

Gay Boy Scout Leader Geoff McGrath Will Keep Leading Troop, Without Charter

| by Allison Geller

The Boy Scouts of America has revoked the charter of a Seattle troop led by openly gay scoutmaster Geoffrey McGrath.

McGrath was booted from the Boy Scouts in March for coming out about his sexuality. The 49-year-old former social worker, who has been married to his husband for 20 years, is thought to be the first scoutmaster ousted by the BSA for being gay.

According to Scouts for Equality, a group that lobbies for the ending of discrimination in the BSA, said that the BSA revoked the charters for two scouting units, Troop 98 and Pack 98, that were run by McGrath in the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church.

But the church’s reverend, Monica Corsaro, says that McGrath is still leading the troop.

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“Based on our religious principles, we will continue to act as an autonomous church that does not discriminate,” she said in a statement to Scouts for Equality. “We will continue to have our troop meetings here, every Thursday night, with business as usual.”

The BSA’s director of communications, Deron Smith, said the troop didn’t follow the charter agreement, and thus the organization had no choice but to cut ties.

“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. We are contacting the parents and leaders of the units to inform them of the chartered-organization change,” Smith said in a statement.

Zach Wahls, the executive director of Scouts for Equality, said in a statement that the BSA’s decision would only “hurt” the scouts who “need the values and leadership of someone like scoutmaster McGrath."

“Unfortunately, the BSA’s decision calls into question its commitment to leadership and values by perpetuating an outmoded policy rooted in fear and discrimination,” Wahls said. "History will show that today’s announcement is a self-inflicted wound."

McGrath brought gay issues into the conversation with his scouting group along with regular Boy Scouts activities.

“Mostly it’s about ending the silence,” McGrath told NBC at the time his leadership position was revoked. “It means becoming an equal participant with everyone else. That’s all.”

McGrath told the Associated Press yesterday that he would continue to lead his troop despite the BSA's actions.

"Just because the BSA doesn't want to be involved with this church and these kids, we will still have a robust youth program for our kids," McGrath said. "It's one of the best things I do. One of the things that really makes my week is spending time with these kids."

Sources: TIME, NBC, Associated Press