2 Boy Scout Leaders Could Lose Membership For Utah Pride Support
Two Boy Scout leaders from Utah are in jeopardy of losing their membership after taking part in the state's Gay Pride Parade in Salt Lake City, ABC News reports. Local BSA officials want the leaders to apologize with other Scouts who marched in the parade for their participation in the LGBT event.
Officials from the Great Salt Lake Council of the Boy Scouts of America say that Scout leaders, Peter Brownstein and Neil Whitaker violated the organization's policy, which prohibits using Scouting to promote political positions, the Associated Press notes.
"We were very disappointed that you used Scouting to advance the gay agenda at the Utah Pride Parade," council leaders wrote to Brownstein. "You and others are welcome to participate in the parade as supportive citizens but not as uniformed members of the BSA."
But Whitaker said he does not believe he or Brownstein are promoting a political agenda by marching in the parade, and both refuse to sign an apology letter for allegedly violating the BSA's rules. By not apologizing, however, the local BSA group could revoke their memberships.
"I am a straight scoutmaster with a wife, two children and a golden retriever so it does not impact me other than the loss to our troop of some great volunteers to the program," Brownstein told ABC News Radio. "What we did was carry the American flag proudly at the front of the parade, and having scouts in color guards in parades is as American as apple pie," Brownstein told ABC News' Salt Lake City affiliate KTVX-TV.
He reiterated his stance and told the Salt Lake Tribune that he and Whitaker aren't "rallying for a politician or political event."
As ABC News notes, the leaders decided to march in Utah's Gay Pride Parade because of the BSA's decision to allow openly gay members. Whitaker and the scouts wore their uniforms in the march, but Brownstein did not.
According to a spokesman for the BSA, the national organization supports Utah's council.
"The unauthorized wearing and misuse of the Boy Scout uniform is not new or unique. These individuals, many of whom are not members of the program, do not represent the Boy Scouts of America," Boy Scouts of America spokesman Deron Smith said in a statement to ABCNews.com. "It is unfortunate that these individuals chose to use a youth program to seek attention for themselves and to advance a personal agenda. When individuals inadvertently or willfully choose not to follow BSA regulations, we remind them of Scouting's policies and that to simply disobey a rule because you disagree with it is not an example to set for youth."
But LGBT activists have criticized the council's demands.
"Any discipline or questioning of members of the Scouting family who participated in our procession as a member of our color guard, a unit carrying out nation's flag, would be deplorable," Valarie Larabee, executive director of the Utah Pride Center, the group that organized the parade, said in a statement.