By Daniel Reynolds
Originally published on Advocate.com April 01 2014 3:13 PM ET
The Boy Scouts of America has kicked out a scoutmaster for being gay.
The youth organization revoked the membership of Geoff McGrath, the 49-year-old leader of a Seattle-area troop, after BSA officials learned of his sexual orientation. NBC reports that he may be the first gay leader to be expelled since the BSA lifted its ban on gay youth, but not gay leaders, January 1.
“It’s extremely disappointing to not be fully supported and defended in my membership,” McGrath said. “They are complaining that the problem [his sexuality] is a distraction to Scouting, and they don’t seem to understand that the distraction is self-inflicted.”
A BSA spokesman confirmed that the membership of McGrath, a married Eagle Scout, had been “revoked.”
“Our policy is that we do not ask people about their sexual orientation, and it’s not an issue until they deliberately inject it into Scouting in an inappropriate fashion,” Deron Smith, a BSA representative, told NBC.
McGrath had served as leader of Troop 98, which is based in the Rainier Beach neighborhood of Seattle. The members of the group, which was described as “fully inclusive” on the BSA website, were informed of its leader’s sexual orientation before joining, and there had been no reported issues. The troop had even grown to incorporate a Cub Scout pack last fall.
“Anyone who is willing to step forward and provide an opportunity for our youth should be supported, and Geoff has done an excellent job,” said Denise Mimura, the mother of a Troop 98 scout. “If anyone has an issue with this, then where are they?”
Rev. Monica Corsaro of the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church, a partner of Troop 98, had recruited the 49-year-old software engineer for the position last year shortly after BSA leadership had voted to allow gay youth. Corsaro said many gay couples live in the neighborhood, and the decision reflects this demographic.
“I wouldn't have a Boy Scout troop unless we did it this way,” Corsaro said. “This is who we are.”
Zach Wahls, cofounder of Scouting for Equality, condemned the actions of the BSA, which he sees as further proof that its ban on gay leaders is “out of whack.”
“It hurts to watch this happen,” he said. “This troop and this Cub Scout pack would not exist without Geoffrey McGrath, and the fact that they would remove somebody who is growing Scouting just shows how out of whack this policy is.”