The Boy Scouts of America is coming under fire for reportedly removing and subsequently banning an openly gay scout leader from his position in the organization.
Geoff McGrath was the leader of Troop 98 in Seattle, Washington and is thought to be the first scout leader removed from his position since the Boy Scouts decided to allow openly gay troop members, but not leaders, in the organization last year.
McGrath reportedly had the charter for his troop approved by the Boy Scouts last fall through Rainier Beach Methodist Church without hiding his sexual orientation or his public support for gay rights. However, a spokesperson for the Boy Scouts of America reportedly stated that they did not know about McGrath's gay identity until they were contacted for the purposes of a story about McGrath.
“It’s extremely disappointing to not be fully supported and defended in my membership,” McGrath told NBC News. “They are complaining that the problem is a distraction to Scouting and they don’t seem to understand that the distraction is self-inflicted.”
The Boy Scouts of America voted last May to begin allowing openly gay scouts for the first time as of Jan. 1, 2014, but not to allow openly gay troop leaders. The move led to the formation of Trail Life USA, an alternative scouting group that excludes openly gay members.
“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 to NBC's News. Until the news organization's inquiry, “he [McGrath] hadn’t deliberately injected it into Scouting in an inappropriate fashion... We spoke with Mr. McGrath today and based on the information he provided, the National Council has revoked his registration,” Smith added.
Prior to the Boy Scout's policy change last May, McGrath's brother and nephew rode their bikes from the Northwest to Boy Scouts headquarters in Texas in order to raise awareness surrounding the organization's discriminatory practices.
Church leaders will reportedly stand behind McGrath.