Going against wishes of a Seattle-based United Methodist Church and Reconciling congregation, the Boy Scouts of America forced out founder of two UMC Scouting units Geoffrey McGrath–an Eagle Scout, husband, and Scoutmaster–is first gay adult to be removed from the Boy Scouts of America since the organization’s vote in May of 2013 to end its ban on gay youth.
Scouts for Equality, the national campaign to end discrimination within the Boy Scouts of America, condemned the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to the revoke the membership of openly gay Scoutmaster who founded two United Methodist Church-sponsored Scouting units in Seattle, Washington that accepted all members.
“There would not be a troop at Rainier Beach United Methodist Church unless it was fully inclusive,” said Rev. Dr. Monica Corsaro, who played a leading role in organizing the two BSA units, Pack 98 and Troop 98. “At our local congregation, we welcome all–and for us, ‘all’ means ‘all.’ The Boy Scouts claims that Geoff was looking to advance a ‘personal agenda.’ The only agenda Geoff was advancing was that of the Boy Scouts’ Vision – to prepare youth to become responsible leaders through the Scouting program.”
The United Methodist Church is the Boy Scouts of America’s second largest chartered (ie sponsor) organization, accounting for more than 10,000 units and 363,000 youth nationwide. Rainier Beach UMC is part of the Reconciling Ministries Network, made up of over 600 United Methodist communities across the country who welcome and affirm LGBTQ people. There are over 70 other Scouting units chartered to Reconciling Congregations throughout the United States.“I am honored to continue to serve my troop until such a time as I am release from my post by the Pastor. My purpose as Scoutmaster remains unchanged, to serve my best in the role to which I have been appointed, with the specific objectives of character development, character training and physical fitness of the youth in Pack 98 and Troop 98. I am satisfied that our example remains a model for full inclusivity to other Scouting units,” said Geoffrey McGrath.
Mr. McGrath intends to continue supporting the two units.
“The Boy Scouts need to understand that the Scoutmaster they seek to remove is growing the Scouting movement,” said Eagle Scout and Scouts for Equality co-founder Zach Wahls. “If this unit had not been inclusive, it would not have existed. By effectively shuttering this unit, the BSA is depriving these youth of the opportunity to be a Scout and they are telling all their youth that discrimination is okay. That’s a harmful message for all youth, gay and straight alike, and it has no place in Scouting.”
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Media Contact: Justin Wilson Press@ScoutsforEquality.com