US & Canada

Boy Scouts revokes group charter over gay leader

Geoff McGrath displays his Boy Scout scoutmaster uniform shirt and other scout items for the Seattle troop he led, in Bellevue, Washington 1 April 2014 Image copyright AP
Image caption Geoff McGrath had led the troop in Washington state since November 2013

The Boy Scouts of America has revoked the charter of a scouting group at a church in the US state of Washington after learning its leader is gay.

Geoff McGrath was ejected from the scouts last month and the group's charter was revoked on 17 April.

The Boy Scouts voted last year to allow gay boys within their ranks but barred gay men from adult leadership roles.

The Reverend Monica Corsaro of Rainier Beach United Methodist Church said she hoped the Scouts would reconsider.

"I would really like them to honour their own bylaws, to respect the religious beliefs of their chartering partners," she told the BBC. "Our religious beliefs include being accepting of all people."

The church chartered its Boy Scout troop in November.

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) said it had revoked the charter "because the church no longer agrees to the terms of the BSA chartered organisation agreement".

"We are saddened by this development, but remain committed to providing all youth with the best possible Scouting experience where the Scouting program is the main focus," spokesman Deron Smith said in a statement provided to the BBC.

"We have already identified a new chartered organisation to sponsor the units and are contacting the parents and leaders of the units to inform them of the change."

Mr McGrath told the Associated Press news agency he would continue to participate in the church's youth programme even though it could not be an official scouting troop.

The Rainier Beach church, which belongs to a denomination of Methodist churches who say they welcome all sexual orientations and gender identities, supported Mr McGrath and allowed him to continue leading Scout meetings after his membership was revoked.

But a lawyer for the Scouts told the church last week in a letter the charter was being revoked, Dr Corsaro said. The church was considering its legal options, she added.

Both state and national legislators from Washington state had sent letters in support of Mr McGrath to the national scouting organisation.

The BSA, founded in 1910, has about 2.6 million young members, down from a peak of around four million, and about one million adult leaders and volunteers.

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