Two Boy Scouts leaders in Utah may be kicked out of the organization after marching with other Scouts in a gay pride parade.
The two men participated in a Salt Lake City pride event wearing their Scout uniforms, a violation of the organization’s rules.There is no ruling yet on whether they will be sanctioned by the organization.
The move comes as the Boy Scouts of America has been grappling with its ban on gay Scouts, which was recently lifted. The change in the organization’s policy has been praised by many but also drawn protests. Recently the Southern Baptists voted to condemn the end of the gay Scout ban, calling on its members to resist.
“I am very sad to say that it seems as though (Boy Scouts) are moving away from the principles they were founded upon,” Wes Taylor, pastor at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Newport News, Virginia, said at the Southern Baptist annual convention. “It is an environment just fertile for young boys to be exposed to something that is ungodly and unacceptable.”
While gay Scouts are now allowed in the organization, there is still a ban on gays serving in leadership roles.In Utah, the Great Salt Lake Council of the Boy Scouts of America said Peter Brownstein and Neil Whitaker broke the organization’s rules by using their positions to advocate for a political message, The Associated Press reported.
“We were very disappointed that you used Scouting to advance the gay agenda at the Utah Pride Parade,” council leaders wrote to Brownstein, according to The Associated Press. “You and others are welcome to participate in the parade as supportive citizens but not as uniformed members of the BSA.”
Both the Scout leaders who participated in the Utah Pride Parade refused to sign an apology, saying they had no political message. Brownstein noted that he has a wife and two children, and Whitaker added that they were only there to support others.
Boy Scouts of America spokesman Deron Smith said the organization took issue with them wearing the Boy Scouts uniforms, noting that their views do not represent Boy Scouts of America.
“It is unfortunately that these individuals chose to use a youth program to seek attention for themselves and to advance a personal agenda,” he said. “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.”
The case of the Boy Scout leaders who marched in the gay pride event could be an important test for the Boy Scouts, with advocates on both sides awaiting the result.