Just days after the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) voted to end the organization’s ban on openly homosexual members, Salt Lake leaders arranged for the scouts to march in the parade, including Peter Brownstein, one of the local scoutmasters. Brownstein told NBC that a few adults and youth marched in uniform at the front of the homosexual pride parade, and that he also marched, but not in scoutmaster apparel.
“I was essentially intimidated and told not to wear my BSA uniform,” he told reporters. “So, I am unfortunately not in my BSA uniform, but am glad that others have chosen to do so.”
According to reports, an email to the scouts from Salt Lake City executive Rick Barnes outlined that members and leaders could participate in the parade, but not in uniform.
“[H]aving uniformed scouts and scouters in the gay pride parade this weekend is not acceptable and not allowed,” he wrote. “The new policy states that no person, youth or adult may use scouting to promote sexual orientation or any other political or social agenda.”
“That’s our official position. It always has been, there’s nothing new here,” Barnes told reporters. “We just don’t want people to use the Boy Scouts to advocate their positions.”
However, some of the leaders and members wore their uniform anyway. One of the participants was Kenji Mikesell, 18. He marched both with the scouts and the organization Mormons Building Bridges, which held signs such as “Jesus said love everyone.”
“It just feels like the right thing to do,” he said.
Scoutmaster Dave McGrath also wore his uniform at the event.
“This is not advocacy, unless marching in the Columbus Day Parade is advocacy for Italians or marching in the St. Patty’s Day in Boston or Chicago is advocacy for Irish,” he stated. “We are advocating as Boy Scouts within Boy Scouts to live their Scout Law.”
However, BSA headquarters disagrees.
“These individuals stated a personal opinion and do not represent scouting,” it wrote in a statement. “Scouting teaches people that often in life, one finds rules they don’t agree with, but a scout is to be obedient.”
“To simply disobey a rule because you disagree with it is not an example to set for youth,” it continued. “It is up to each council to determine how best to hold their leaders to the standards of Scouting. We will support the Greater Salt Lake Area Council as they determine the appropriate response.”
The American Family Association likewise expressed concern today, and called upon Christians to pull their children out of the organization.
“Just ten days after the BSA voted to accept open and avowed ‘gay’ scouts, the Scout Oath and Law are already falling apart,” it stated. “The first to fall was the pledge to be ‘morally straight.’ By defiantly marching in the parade, the BSA has now lost ‘trustworthy’ and ‘obedient.'”
“Immediately after the historic vote, activists were already screaming that the new policy doesn’t go far enough,” it continued. “They have vowed to continue their bully tactics until homosexual adults are openly accepted.”