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.”