The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has reprimanded two scout leaders who took part in a gay pride parade with several scouts.
Peter Brownstein and Neil Whitaker, who took part in the Utah Pride Parade in Salt Lake City on 2 June, were disciplined for violating the BSA’s policy prohibiting the use of scouting to promote a political agenda, said Salt Lake City BSA officials.
The Associated Press reports that the pair were warned that they would break the policy if they were to wear their uniforms at the march.
The pair of leaders wore their uniforms, however the scouts they were with did not. A former scout master, Dave McGrath of Idaho Falls, also attended, wearing his uniform.
“We were very disappointed that you used Scouting to advance the gay agenda at the Utah Pride Parade,” council leaders wrote, addressing Brownstein.
“You and others are welcome to participate in the parade as supportive citizens but not as uniformed members of the BSA.”
Whitaker had told the Salt Lake Tribune that the pair had never intended to promote a political agenda, but instead were celebrating a “cultural event”. He compared the march to the Days of ’47 Parade, which honours Utah pioneers, and usually includes uniformed boy scouts.
“We weren’t rallying for a politician or political event,” said Whitaker. “To me, it was being supportive of my fellow human beings.”
Both leaders have refused to sign an apology letter which would acknowledge that they violated the BSA’s policy, and that they were disobedient.
The pair have been threatened with the revocation of their Scouting membership if they commit a similar offence in future.
The decision by the Utah BSA council is backed up by the national organisation. Deron Smith, a national spokesman for the BSA said: ”These individuals, many of whom are not registered in Scouting, expressed a personal opinion and do not represent the Boy Scouts of America,”
“Scouting is taking appropriate steps to respond to this issue,” continued Smith.
Valarie Larabee, executive director of Utah Pride Center, which organises Utah Pride, condemned the decision by the BSA.
“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,” she said in a statement.
Back in May, the BSA’s final vote on the issue of gay members took place in Dallas-Fort Worth, Grapevine, where over 60% of the 1,400 strong national council of local leaders, voted to lift the national ban. The ban on adult members remains in place.