The Boy Scouts of America this week revoked the registration of a Seattle scoutmaster after he disclosed his sexual orientation to a reporter for a news story.
The decision prompted outcry from gay-rights supporters, who want the venerable youth-serving organization to admit openly homosexual adults as well as youth.
NBC News, who had been doing a story on Geoffrey McGrath, played a major role in “outing” him to BSA officials.
In a March 31 letter to Mr. McGrath, the BSA said that “if a volunteer makes an issue out of his or her sexual orientation — especially to the youth we serve — then that volunteer is no longer eligible” to be a registered leader.
“We spoke today after a national media representative inquired locally and nationally regarding your having stated that you are homosexual in connection with a news story,” the BSA wrote to Mr. McGrath. “Based on your public statement, the National Council has no choice but to revoke your registration.”
NBC reporter Miranda Leitsinger said in her story that Mr. McGrath, who is married to his longtime male partner, agreed last year to lead a BSA troop chartered by the gay-friendly Rainier Beach United Methodist Church in Seattle.
Mr. McGrath told NBC that starting the unit after the BSA leaders voted in May to admit openly gay youth — but keep the ban on openly gay adults — “was not a publicity stunt, but a bid to serve youth and rejoin the contentious discussion around gay and lesbian adult membership” in Scouts.
According to NBC, Mr. McGrath’s superiors didn’t inquire about his sexual orientation and were not aware that he was gay.
But after NBC contacted Seattle Scouting officials to discuss Mr. McGrath, the officials realized he intended to “use our program as a means to further a personal agenda,” Sharon Moulds, the Seattle BSA council’s top professional leader, told NBC.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) denounced the BSA’s policy and Mr. McGrath’s firing.
“Banning a caring Scoutmaster who has dedicated his time and efforts to helping young men grow into adults of integrity is a moral outrage,” said Jeremy Pittman, deputy field director at HRC.
In May, some 1,400 Scouting leaders debated — and passed — a membership policy change that permitted openly gay youth to join Scouting as of January 2014.
The organization did not consider changing its long-standing ban on adult homosexuals as volunteers, leaders and employees, and after passing the membership policy for youth, BSA leaders said the issue was closed.
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