Two leaders of a Salt Lake City Boy Scout troop may lose their Scouting memberships after marching in uniform alongside Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts in the Utah Pride Parade June 2. They have been ordered to apologize, but refuse to do so.
As a result, executives of the Great Salt Lake Council of the Boy Scouts of America, or BSA, are considering revoking the memberships of Peter Brownstein and Neil Whitaker, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. The council execs contend Brownstein and Whitaker violated BSA policy by using the organization to promote a political purpose, the newspaper reported.
“We were very disappointed that you used Scouting to advance the gay agenda at the Utah Pride Parade on Sunday in Salt Lake City,” council President Bry Davis and Scout Executive Rick Barnes wrote to Brownstein, the Tribune said. The council has ordered Brownstein and Whitaker to sign a statement of apology for participating in the Utah Pride Parade, and the refusal to do so may cost them their BSA memberships.
However, Brownstein and Whitaker don’t see their involvement in the Utah Pride Parade as political at all. “We weren’t rallying for a politician or political event,” Whitaker told the Tribune. “To me, it was being supportive of my fellow human beings.” Similarly, Brownstein told Salt Lake City television station ABC 4 Utah, “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 and Whitaker were members of the parade’s color guard, carrying flags and marching alongside both current Scouts and a former Scoutmaster.
Valerie A. Larabee, executive director of the Utah Pride Center, has been supportive of Brownstein’s and Whitaker’s involvement with the parade. “Like the Days of ’47 Parade, which commemorates the journey and struggle of Mormons as they arrived from across the Plains so many years ago, the Utah Pride Festival commemorates the journey and progress of the LGBTQ [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning] community, a community that has also endured a long history of being marginalized, victimized and oppressed,” Larabee told the Tribune. “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 our nation’s flag, would be deplorable.”
Unfortunately for Brownstein and Whitaker, the national BSA organization does not agree with Larabee’s assessment. Its representative, Deron Smith, has claimed their actions do not represent the Scouting organization and were simply done “to seek attention.”
“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,” 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.”
For the record, Brownstein told ABC News Radio that he did not wear his uniform at the parade, ABCNews.com reported.
Eric Brown is an IBTimes political reporter who eats far too much pizza. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and currently resides in Brooklyn.