(Photo: REUTERS/Tim Sharp)
A gay Seattle Boy Scouts leader was left "stunned" after the organization removed him from his position. Open affirmation of his sexual orientation is in direct violation of its rules, the organization said.
"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 told NBC News.
Geoff McGrath, leader of Troop 98 in Seattle's Rainier Beach neighborhood, was told that he was being removed from his position after being profiled by NBC News, which revealed his sexuality. The 49-year-old software engineer married his longtime male partner in 2008 in California.
"I'm stunned," McGrath told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "Our hope is that they'll rethink their decision."
"They are complaining that the problem (his status as an openly gay man) is a distraction to Scouting and they don't seem to understand that the distraction is self-inflicted," he added to NBC.
BSA revised its 103-year-old policy last year to allow gay youths to join its organization, but kept the ban on gay adults who want to serve as scout leaders.
The decision was criticized by people on both sides of the debate. In protest of the decision to allow gay youths, some evangelicals indicated that they will likely turn to Boy Scout alternatives. On the other hand, organizations supportive of the pro-gay cause have severed relationships with BSA for its continued ban on gay adults.
McGrath, who has led the troop since its formation last fall, said that he was encouraged to apply for the position by the pastor of Rainier Beach United Methodist Church, the chartering organization.
"We were transparent," he said about his application. "If they didn't want us to be a troop, they shouldn't have accepted our application. To hear claims that this is surprising to them is confusing. We've been transparent from day one."
"All you have to do is Google my name, and the first thing that will come up is gay pride," he added.
Smith of the BSA explained in an email on Tuesday: "The Boy Scouts of America does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of our members. We don't believe the topic of sexual orientation has a role in Scouting and it is not discussed unless it is deliberately injected into Scouting."
The Rev. Monica Corsaro of Rainier Beach said the church will continue supporting the Boy Scouts despite the controversy but will not stop supporting McGrath either.
"We're going to stand with Geoff, and we're going to stand with the Boy Scouts," Corsaro said, "because at the end of the day, this is about raising youth and having good role models."