Two Boy Scout Leaders' Membership May Be Revoked for Marching in Utah Pride Parade

ABC News
Two Boy Scout Leaders' Membership May Be Revoked for Marching in Utah Pride Parade
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Two Boy Scout Leaders' Membership May Be Revoked for Marching in Utah Pride Parade (ABC News)

Two Utah Boy Scout leaders could lose their memberships unless they agree to apologize to local organization officials for marching with other Scouts in the Utah Pride Parade in Salt Lake City.

Officials from the Great Salt Lake Council of the Boy Scouts of America said both Peter Brownstein and Neil Whitaker violated the organization's policy that forbids using Scouting to promote a political position, 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 AP. "You and others are welcome to participate in the parade as supportive citizens but not as uniformed members of the BSA."

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Yet both Brownstein and Whitaker said they did not feel as if their decision to march in the parade was a political provocation. Both men refuse to sign an apology letter for allegedly disobeying the organization's rules, which may trigger the local council to revoke their memberships.

"I am a straight scoutmaster with a wife, two children and a golden retriever so it does not impact me other than the loss to our troop of some great volunteers to the program," Brownstein told ABC News Radio.

"What we did was carry the American flag proudly at the front of the parade; and having scouts in color guards in parades is as American as apple pie," Brownstein told ABC News' Salt Lake City affiliate KTVX-TV.

"We weren't rallying for a politician or political event," Whitaker told The Salt Lake Tribune. "To me, it was being supportive of my fellow human beings."

The decision to march in the Utah Pride Parade came just a month after the Boy Scouts of America lifted the ban on gay members. The organization still has a ban on gay adults serving as Scout leaders.

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The group that Brownstein and Whitaker were a part of spanned in age from a retired scoutmaster in his mid-50s to a 9-year-old scout from a neighboring town, Brownstein told ABC News Radio. While some marchers wore their uniforms, Brownstein said he did not.

Despite the group garnering cheers at the parade held on June 2, the national organization stood by the Utah council's reprimand.

"The unauthorized wearing and misuse of the Boy Scout uniform is not new or unique. These individuals, many of whom are not members of the program, do not represent the Boy Scouts of America," Boy Scouts of America spokesman Deron Smith said in a statement to ABCNews.com

"It is unfortunately that these individuals chose to use a youth program to seek attention for themselves and to advance a personal agenda. 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."

ABC News' calls to Whitaker were not immediately returned.

ABC News Radio and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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