Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published April 3, 2014 at 9:33 PM | Page modified April 3, 2014 at 10:47 PM

  • Share:
           
  • Comments (44)
  • Print

Rally backs ousted gay leader of Boy Scout troop

Geoff McGrath and his supporters demonstrated Thursday to ask for his official reinstatement as a Scout leader after Boy Scouts of America removed him for being openly gay.


Seattle Times staff reporter

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
What a shame. BSA membership has dropped 35% since the decision was made to de-facto... MORE
I'd like to thank McGrath for his service to the scouts and for his work with Scouts... MORE
BSA is a private, religious group? Fine. Then they'll have no objection to paying... MORE

advertising

Geoff McGrath has weathered his fair share of storms. As an Eagle Scout, he prepared for storms as he sailed on Puget Sound and camped in the crater of Mount Rainier. As a scoutmaster, he teaches the boys in Troop 98 in Seattle’s Rainier Beach neighborhood how to be prepared.

But he wasn’t prepared for the storm that blew in Monday, when he learned in an online news report that the Boy Scouts of America had revoked his membership, citing its rule banning openly gay leaders.

The ouster was the result of an “outdated and archaic policy,” McGrath said at a rally Thursday where supporters called for his reinstatement as a Scout leader.

About two dozen supporters — including Boy Scout members, ranging from Cub Scouts to adult Eagle Scouts and state Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, who is gay and wore an Eagle Scout pin on his coat — demonstrated in front of the headquarters of the Chief Seattle Council, the local BSA council on Rainier Avenue South.

McGrath, 49, learned about his removal in a story on the NBC News website, and he received a formal letter from the Boy Scouts of America on Tuesday, he said.

He and the rest of Troop 98 were to be the subjects of an NBC News story about the new troop. The story would be about how the troop is made up of leaders and Scouts from diverse backgrounds, said the Rev. Monica Corsaro of Rainier Beach United Methodist Church, the troop’s charter partner.

“There is an African-American leader, a Vietnamese leader and Geoff (McGrath), who happens to be gay.” Corsaro said. “He’s one part of a beautiful community. There was no hiding, no secret keeping. We had nothing to hide.”

Corsaro and others involved knew McGrath was gay, but the Chief Seattle Council wasn’t aware of his sexual orientation until officials were contacted by NBC News, council executive Sharon Moulds told NBC News on Sunday.

“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 to NBC News.

Last year, the BSA passed a resolution that no youth could be denied membership “on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone,” but the statement didn’t include adults. The membership policy also states “no member may use Scouting to promote or advance any social or political position or agenda.”

McGrath said he isn’t promoting an agenda, but he is open about his sexual orientation. He said he is more concerned for the kids in Troop 98 and Cub Pack 98 than he is for himself.

“This isn’t about me,” he said. “This is for the kids who need the service.”

Susan Tennis, whose 8-year-old son, Carson, is a Cub Scout in an Olympia troop, said promoting equality is important for future Scouts. Carson wore his Cub Scout uniform at the rally.

“Discrimination doesn’t have a place in Scouting,” Tennis said.

Corsaro said the church stands behind McGrath “100 percent” and the parents of the boys have been supportive.

Despite official revocation of his position, McGrath said he plans to remain a Scout leader, and he has Corsaro’s support. “I haven’t abandoned my post,” he said.

Paige Cornwell: 206-464-2530 or pcornwell@seattletimes.com



Want unlimited access to seattletimes.com? Subscribe now!

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

The summer is wide open.

The summer is wide open.

Follow our three-part "Washington's National Parks" series running through August 10 for an in-depth look at some of our local treasures.

Advertising

Partner Video

Advertising


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►