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Salt Lake City Boy Scouts Defy Leaders, March In Gay Pride Parade

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Boy Scouts and adult volunteers wore their uniforms Sunday as they marched in Utah’s Gay Pride parade — defying a leader of the youth organization who had said they couldn’t do so under the organization’s guidelines prohibiting advocating political or social positions.

“It just feels like the right thing to do,” Kenji Mikesell, an 18-year-old Eagle Scout and high school senior still active with his troop, said before leaving for the parade in Salt Lake City.

Peter Brownstein, a Scoutmaster who helped organize the Boy Scouts participation in the march, said a few adults and youth marched at the front of the parade in uniform, including a Cub Scout, an Asst. Scoutmaster, and a father and son team despite the fact that a local leader of the Boy Scouts had said Friday that they were forbidden from doing so.

We as a Scouting movement do not advocate any social or political position” said Rick Barnes, chief scout executive of the Great Salt Lake Council. “We do not, as Boy Scouts, show support for any social or political position. We’re neutral. If he wants to attend the parade and others do that are Scouts or Scouters, they’re welcome to do so as private citizens wearing whatever they want except their uniform.

In a statement, Deron Smith,  a spokesman for the national headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America, said it was up to the local council to determine any punishment.

“These individuals stated a personal opinion and do not represent Scouting,” said Smith. “Scouting teaches young 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 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.”

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Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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8 thoughts on “Salt Lake City Boy Scouts Defy Leaders, March In Gay Pride Parade”

  1. Boy Scouts of America Corporate Headquarters needs to fix their PR. They are not doing it right.

    The Scout law says:

    A Scout is
    trustworthy,
    loyal,
    helpful,
    friendly,
    courteous,
    kind,
    obedient,
    cheerful,
    thrifty,
    brave,
    clean, and
    reverent.

    But they just trumped everything by sticking with “Obedience” in the obvious face of their politically and socially oppressive agenda against LGBT people. It’s amazing anyone is willing to wear the Boy Scout uniform since its connotation as anti-gay stands out. It is the only one of 1.4 million chartered not-for-profit, nonreligious youth organizations with a written anti-gay policy. By BSA’s own internal research.

    I’d like to help. I’m living all my Scout Laws – that’s what I made my Oath to obey. Not some obey some Corporate anti-gay policy with which they’ve managed in one statement to pollute everything beautiful about the Boy Scouts of America.

    Because since 1991 – and reaffirmed in 2013 – the Scout Law has a suffix: “A Scout is Trustworthy… unless we suspect you are gay.”

    BSA – are you listening? Your best PR is to get rid of the policy. Then you won’t look so… hmm… how to say politely? “Homophobic.”

  2. These Scouts and Scouters should be disciplined in some fashion. They knowingly broke the BSA’s rules regarding wearing the uniform. The BSA forbids wearing the uniform when promoting any political or social viewpoint. It’s not an anti-LGBT issue, it’s the same if they were marching in a Republican or Democratic party parade or a Tea Party or Occupy parade. It’s forbidden, and for very good reasons. It’s also a violation of the BSA’s status under the IRS tax code as a 501(c)(3) organization.

        1. RonF:

          From my perspective (I was the gentleman providing technical assistance to ensure proper protocol and decorum of the Color Guard) the single scout marching with the Mormons Building Bridges team was not connected with the Color Guard. On the other hand, that Eagle Scout named Kenji Mikesell was marching in solidarity with the largest sponsor of Boy Scout Troops in the United States: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

          Between the fact that a young Cub Scout and an 11 year old Scout could not be dissuaded from marching with the Color Guard (and we were under risk from the Greater Salt Lake Council’s Rick Barnes who forbade any scouts to participate), those young scouts and their parents insisted they would march. Since they were Americans in a public space, there was little I could do, except acknowledge their bravery and help them march well.

          Those two young scouts – coupled with that solo Eagle Scout with the Mormons Building Bridges Banner – I attribute to saving the Scoutmasters, Assistant Scoutmasters, Committeemen and Scout Parents from disciplinary action. Their bravery. The bravery of youth. And they knew the risk. I interviewed them prior to the march. I couldn’t keep them from marching.

          So what are you saying, RonF? We look foolish to you, and yet we were afraid but resolute. We trusted in the moral rightness of our mission, and we prevailed.

          As the Jewish men (three marched with us – Scoutmasters all) told me: “The whole world watched as the Holocaust raged and Jews burned. We could not stand by in the face of BSA institutional bullying.”

          We hope you find your moral compass, RonF.

    1. How dare you you pampas windbag I am an eagle scout and a member of the order of the arrow Its ok to march in all other parades like thanksgiving which is a political parade or Christmas parade which is a religious parade but not not a gay pride parade you are so two faced and pampas it makes me sick

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