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Gay Seattle Scoutmaster Defies BSA, Continues to Lead Troop with Support of Church: VIDEO

Geoffrey_mcgrath

Last week we reported that the Boy Scouts of America had removed openly gay scout leader Geoffrey McGrath in the first enforcement of its new rule barring scout leaders.

But McGrath has not stopped leading his troop. And the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church is backing him, KING5 reports:

"I have not tendered my resignation," said McGrath. "Until I am relieved of my duty properly, I stand in my post."

It's a post supported by Pastor Monica Corsaro who leads the host church for McGrath's charter application. "It's very disappointing that a policy that is so blatantly discriminatory is being acted out, and so I think it makes us stand more firm and be more clear that Geoffrey is our Scoutmaster and Geoffrey will remain our Scoutmaster," said Corsaro, who also said the Boy Scouts of America have yet to contact her directly.

"In my humble opinion, I don't feel like I've been communicated to by the Boy Scouts of America, Geoffrey also received an email which I was copied on but I have received no direct communication from the Boy Scouts of America."

Watch KING5's report on the church and troop's devotion to McGrath, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Gay Seattle Scoutmaster Defies BSA, Continues to Lead Troop with Support of Church: VIDEO" »


Boy Scouts Remove Openly Gay Scout Leader: VIDEO

The Boy Scouts of American removed an openly gay scout leader in the first enforcement of last year's new rules barring them, NBC News reports:

McgrathGeoff McGrath, 49, leader of Troop 98 in Seattle’s Rainier Beach neighborhood, is believed to be the first gay adult to be booted from the Boy Scouts of America since it held a controversial ballot last May allowing gay youth—but not adults—to participate in one of the country’s most popular youth organizations. The Scouts had severed ties with gay adults in previous years, before the vote to admit gay youth, but McGrath, an Eagle Scout, had been hoping for a different response in this new era of Scouting.

“It’s extremely disappointing to not be fully supported and defended in my membership,” McGrath told NBC News. “They are complaining that the problem [his status as an openly gay man] is a distraction to Scouting and they don’t seem to understand that the distraction is self-inflicted.”

NBC News planned to do a story on Troop 98. The BSA said they removed McGrath after he "deliberately injected" his sexuality into Scouting in an "inappropriate" fashion by speaking to NBC News about it:

McGrath’s Troop 98 is part of the BSA's Chief Seattle Council, which said late Sunday that it didn't inquire about his sexual orientation—as directed by BSA policy—when he applied for a leadership position, according to Sharon Moulds, the council’s top professional leader.

Moulds said she found out McGrath was gay only after NBC News contacted her. “It was then that we became aware of his intentions to make a public statement about his orientation and use our program as a means to further a personal agenda,” she wrote in an email.

Seattle's KING5 spoke to McGrath about the dismissal.

Watch KING5's report, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Boy Scouts Remove Openly Gay Scout Leader: VIDEO" »


Walt Disney World Cuts Ties with Boy Scouts Until They Are Fully Inclusive

You may recall that back in April of 2013, the Boy Scouts of America began allowing gay kids under the age of 18 to participate in scouting, but maintained that openly gay adults still could not serve as scout leaders. Walt_disney_world

This discriminatory policy has led Walt Disney World to discontinue funding the BSA through their annual “Ears to You” grant program until the policy changes:

In an e-mail to local members, Central Florida Council Board President Robert Utsey wrote: “We recognize that many Scout Units have received financial support over the last several years from this grant opportunity and are sad to see it go. The National BSA Council has reached out to [Walt Disney World] to try to resolve the situation, however, according to WDW, their views do not currently align with the BSA and they are choosing to discontinue this level of support.”

Since Scouts for Equality’s inception in 2012, seven major corporate sponsors of the Boy Scouts of America have ended their partnerships with the organization. These sponsors include Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar, Major League Soccer, Merck, Intel, UPS and now Walt Disney World.

Zach Wahls, the co-founder of Eagle Scout and Scouts for Equality — who is himself a straight Eagle Scout with two lesbian parents — said, “We’re never happy to see Scouting suffer as a result of the BSA’s anti-gay policy, but Disney made the right decision to withhold support until Scouting is fully inclusive.”


Maryland Teen Makes History as Openly Gay Eagle Scout

Pascaltessier

Pascal Tessier was blown away last night when he became one of, if not the first openly gay youths to receive his Eagle Scout ranking. The resolution allowing gay scouts, which passed last May, went into effect on January 1st, and many people believe that Tessier, a member of Troop 52 in Chevy Chase, MD, is the first to achieve the prestigious ranking while being completely open about his sexuality.

Becoming an Eagle Scout is no easy task, requiring twenty-one merit badges, a community service project, and a meeting with a board of review, and Tessier's road was even more difficult to traverse. The teenager spoke, and was open about being gay, to media last year while participating in a demonstration prior to the Boy Scouts of America's vote regarding gay members. The outcome was positive, but Tessier easily could have jeopardized his standing with the Scouts, who still will not allow openly gay adults to participate.

The Washington Post reports:

“It’s just really amazing, and it honestly hasn’t really sunk in yet,” said Tessier, a senior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. “We didn’t know if it was going to happen at all.”

Both Zach Wahls, outspoken executive director of Scouts for Equality, and Eric Andresen, father of Ryan Andresen, who was denied his Eagle Scout rank due to his sexual orientation just last year, commented on Tessier's achievement.

“I don’t know of any other Scouts out there who have said, ‘I am gay and I defy BSA to kick me out’ — and Pascal has done that,” said Eric Andresen...

“The fact that Pascal is now able to get his award is directly because of what Ryan unfortunately went though,” Andresen said...

“We certainly think this is a day to celebrate,” Wahls said. “As we see more Pascal Tessiers coming up though the program, getting their Eagle Scouts, other scouting parents and other scouting leaders who might be a little more conservative will see there is nothing to be afraid of, that Pascal is a phenomenal young man and people like him make scouting better.”

Tessier and his mother, Tracie Felker, were overjoyed at the news, but hesitant about the limitations still placed on gay scouts. And for good reason: Tessier's older brother, Lucien, is also an openly gay scout.

Even as he celebrated Monday night, Tessier was well aware of how the partial policy change could affect him. He will turn 18 in August.

“It’s kind of a backhanded acceptance: We accept you for now,” he said. “It says to you you’re a monster of some sort.”

...

Felker said the problem with the Boy Scout’s new policy is that it suggests something changes in her children once they hit 18.

“What no one really wants to talk about is the suggestion that gay adults are child abusers, and that is infuriating,” she said.

“It’s impossible to believe that the creme de la creme of the Scouts, just because they turn 18, are no longer suitable to participate in the programs,” Felker said.

For now, though, Tessier sets an amazing example of what openness and honesty can achieve. A formal ceremony will be held for him and other Eagle Scout honorees in June. Congratulations, Pascal! 


As Boy Scouts Begin Accepting Gay Youth, Anti-gay Predictions of a 'Mass Exodus' Fail to Hold Up

Despite the doom and gloom that many anti-gay activists predicted in the wake of the Boy Scouts of America opening their membership to gay youth, it appears the policy change, which went into effect at the start of the new year, has not led to any sort of ‘mass exodus.’ ThinkProgress reports:

Boy scoutsA BSA spokesman noted that the vast majority of religious groups have stayed with the organization despite the policy shift. The BSA estimates that less than 2 percent of its 116,000 Scout units were abandoned by their sponsors.

 And even in some very conservative places, those abandoned troops have found new backers. Joey Kiker, spokesman for the Greater Alabama Council in Birmingham, told a local newspaper that while a few churches that sponsored Scout units have left, “every single unit that lost a charter partner, within an hour, had a new charter partner.” And Brad Haddock, a national board member from Wichita, Kansas likened the warnings to the Y2K scare. “There hasn’t been a whole lot of fallout,” he told the Associated Press, observing that “If a church said they wouldn’t work with us, we’d have a church right down the street say, ‘We’ll take the troop.’”


Boy Scouts to Welcome Gay Members Starting January 1

BY SAMANTHA STAINBURN / GlobalPost

As Towleroad reported in yesterday's round-up, The Boy Scouts of America will begin accepting openly gay members on Jan. 1.

BoyscoutsIt’s a notable evolution for an organization with religious roots. Some 70 percent of scout units are sponsored by religious organizations. But BSA executives are hoping the policy change will be no big deal.

"My hope is there will be the same effect this Jan. 1 as the Y2K scare," Brad Haddock, a BSA national executive board member who chairs the policy implementation committee, told the Associated Press. "It's business as usual, nothing happens and we move forward."

Some 60 percent of the BSA’s National Council approved the change in May, and several churches have said they support the move.

The Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – scouting’s biggest sponsor – and the Roman Catholic Church have said they will continue to sponsor scout units, though the Catholic Church said it was leaving the decision of whether to participate up to individual bishops.

Some individual scout troops have chosen to leave the organization rather than go along with the new policy.

Boy Scout Troop 835 in Auburn, Washington, for example, will become the Help Northwest Youth Corps on Jan. 1, KING 5 News reported.

Its scoutmaster, Jim Brass, explained his decision to end his troop’s affiliation with the Boy Scouts: "If they announced, 'We're all going to start getting drunk,' we'd still leave. And to say we're reverent but we're going to go against something specifically God said, it doesn't sit well with me."

He said all but two of his scouts chose to leave with his group rather than join another Boy Scout troop.

He added, "I'm not homophobic. I love people. I just don't want to embrace what everybody does."


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