Recently Read: Scouts remove gay troop leader at United Methodist Church

geoff mcgrath pre-parade

Geoff McGrath does uniform checks before troop members march in Seattle’s gay pride parade. June 2013

Up until a few days ago Geoff McGrath believed he was the only openly gay scoutmaster in the Boy Scouts of America.

Geoff McGrath, 49, leader of Troop 98 in Seattle’s Rainier Beach neighborhood, is believed to be the first gay adult to be booted from the Boy Scouts of America since it held a controversial ballot last May allowing gay youth—but not adults—to participate in one of the country’s most popular youth organizations. The Scouts had severed ties with gay adults in previous years, before the vote to admit gay youth, but McGrath, an Eagle Scout, had been hoping for a different response in this new era of Scouting.

When NBC News went to talk with the BSA for comment about his story the result was McGrath being removed from leadership of Troop 98.

The BSA confirmed that the organization has “revoked” McGrath’s membership.

“Our policy is that we do not ask people about their sexual orientation, and it’s not an issue until they deliberately inject it into Scouting in an inappropriate fashion,” BSA spokesman Deron Smith said in an email. Until NBC’s inquiry, “he [McGrath] hadn’t deliberately injected it into Scouting in an inappropriate fashion,” he wrote.

“We spoke with Mr. McGrath today and based on the information he provided, the National Council has revoked his registration,” Smith added.

Geoff McGrath on a recent Troop 98 expedition to Mount Rainier. Photo courtesy of

Geoff McGrath on a recent Troop 98 expedition to Mount Rainier. Photo courtesy of

Troop 98 is a new Boy Scout troop is chartered with Rainier Beach United Methodist Church in the Seattle District of the Pacific Northwest Conference.

After winning approval last fall, the troop set about holding the meetings, campouts, hikes and work toward earning merit badges that make up Scouting. It was soon joined by a Cub Scout pack (led by another man) as parents with young boys heard about the new unit. The fact that McGrath is gay is among the first pieces of information given to parents whose children join. The troop is also described on the Boy Scouts’ website as “fully inclusive.”

“One of the things that’s different now with our troop from when I was a youth in the Scouts, was there were no identifiable gay or lesbian adults,” McGrath said, recalling the isolation and shame he felt as a teen when he thought he was the only gay person around.

Some parents and their boys gathered last Thursday at the church for the weekly Boy Scouts’ meeting said they had no problem with McGrath’s sexual orientation. Many said they were pleased with the program, looking on while their sons made knots, marched with flags and built a stretcher. A boy from Burma whose family recently immigrated to the U.S. came for the first time and immediately asked to sign up for Cub Scouts.

McGrath is a member of Rainier Beach United Methodist Church and was reached out to by the leadership of the church to lead the new Boy Scout Troop. Rev. Dr. Monica Corsaro the pastor at Rainier Beach United Methodist Church continues to support McGrath as leader of the troop.

“We’re going to stand with Geoff, and we’re going to stand with the Boy Scouts,” she said. “Because at the end of the day, this is about raising youth and having good role models.”

You can read the full article at NBC News; “Extremely disappointing” Scouts Boot Openly Gay Leader.

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1 Comment on "Recently Read: Scouts remove gay troop leader at United Methodist Church"

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 
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Dottie B
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Pastor Monica – you said, “We’re going to stand with Geoff, and we’re going to stand with the Boy Scouts,” she said. “Because at the end of the day, this is about raising youth and having good role models.” I am so proud of you. What a wonderful way to respond to this. The Boy Scouts really don’t know better, and Geoff must be a good person or you wouldn’t have recommended him. We’re all people, after all, trying to do the best we can. God bless you and your congregation. I will be praying for you, your church, and… Read more »
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