The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) revoked the charter of Rainier Beach United Methodist Church (hosts of Troop 98) after they refused to dismiss openly gay scoutmaster Geoffrey McGrath. This comes three weeks after the BSA ordered McGrath to be dismissed as scoutmaster because he was gay.
On April 3, Seattle-area Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Scout leaders, and parents rallied at the Chief Seattle Council headquarters in support of McGrath.
In a letter dated April 17, Steven P. McGowan of the Boy Scouts of America’s General Council notified the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church that its charter would be revoked:
As you are aware, the policy of the Boy Scouts of America does not allow open or avowed homosexuals to serve as adult volunteer leaders […] Nevertheless, Rainier Beach United Methodist Church has stated that it will not remove [McGrath] as a leader and will continue to allow him to serve as an adult leader in violation of the charter agreement and the policies of the Boy Scouts of America. As a result of this refusal to comply with the policies, guidelines, rules, and regulations of the Boy Scouts of America, Rainer Beach United Methodist Church is hereby advised that it is no longer an authorized chartered organization and may no longer use the Scouting program or any of its registered marks or brands.
“I am very disappointed by the decision to revoke the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church’s charter and the BSA’s current policy to dismiss openly gay scoutmasters,” said Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA). “I commend their recent decision to allow LGBT scouts to participate openly, but remain very concerned that dismissing scout leaders for serving openly goes against BSA values of mutual respect and inclusion of others.”
Thirty-nine Washington state legislators have signed a letter in support of Rainier Beach United Methodist Church’s decision to stand by McGrath, writing that they’re “deeply troubled” as “discrimination against gay people is unacceptable.”
Congressman Smith has sent letters to the Chief Seattle Council of BSA Rob McKenna and the President of BSA Robert Gates stressing his support for McGrath’s service as scoutmaster and his concern with the decision made by BSA. The letter was cosigned by Rep. Derek Kilmer, Rep. Suzan DelBene, and Rep. Jim McDermott.
“As a Reconciling Congregation, it’s important to us that we are open to all people,” said Corsaro. “It’s a part of our values that the spirit of inclusion is also reflected in the Boy Scout Troop we charter. The congregation stands with Geoff, because his work with this Troop reflects the spirit and the values of Rainier Beach United Methodist Church. In light of the BSA’s decision to infringe on our religious liberties, sending us such troubling communication on Good Friday, we have acquired legal council to assess our options.”
Check out additional photos from the Seattle rally here. All photos courtesy of Steph Brusig/The Seattle Lesbian.