Utah Pride Center Can't Sponsor Boy Scout Troop

The Utah Pride Center submitted an application to sponsor a troop in February to Rick Barnes, the chief executive officer of the Great Salt Lake Council.

BY Michelle Garcia

April 02 2013 12:50 PM ET

Leaders from a Utah LGBT advocacy organization were turned away from sponsoring a Boy Scout troop, even though they said they agreed to comply with the Boy Scouts of America's policy barring openly gay scouts and leaders.

The Utah Pride Center in February submitted an application to sponsor a troop to Rick Barnes, the chief executive officer of the Great Salt Lake Council. The center's executive director, Valerie Larabee, who told NBC News that the application was not a stunt, added that the troop would be run by heterosexual leaders.

"We feel great concern for youth that may be involved in scouting right now that are hiding something, and we don't ask our kids when they come to our campus here whether they are gay, straight, or anything else," she said to NBC. "We assume that they're here because they think this is a safe place, and as a safe place, we think that we can offer an incredible opportunity to young people who want to be involved in BSA."

The application was returned March 4 without remarks, though Larabee said she believes the paperwork went higher up than the Great Salt Lake Council.

BSA officials told NBC News that they rejected the application because the organization is currently "engaged in an internal discussion about its membership standards policy and is working to stay focused on Scouting’s mission. Based on the mission of this organization [the Utah Pride Center] we do not believe a chartered partner relationship is beneficial to scouting."

The BSA was scheduled to make a decision on whether to lift its ban on openly gay troops and leaders in February but pushed the decision to May after a nationwide campaign from those in favor and those opposed.

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