After a local scoutmaster organized a Boy Scout color guard for the Utah Pride Parade earlier this month, executives with the Great Salt Lake Council are threatening to expel that leader from the organization.
Last month at a meeting of the national council of the Boy Scouts of America, leaders voted to end the organization’s ban of gay scouts, but continue to bar gay adult leaders. In response to the decision, Salt Lake scoutmaster Peter Brownstein organized a color guard to lead the Utah Pride Parade. Scout executives with the Great Salt Lake Council found out about the plan and ordered Brownstein and others not march in uniform. Brownstein didn’t wear his uniform but other youth and adult scouts did in a color guard that led the parade. A week later, Brownstein was summoned to the offices of Great Salt Lake Council Executives Rick Barnes and Bry Davis. They gave him a letter.
“It was handed to me in a meeting in their office on Tuesday morning and as I listened to this situation they proceeded reading the letter with an explanation that they were getting a lot of pressure from the national council down in Texas,” says Brownstein.
Davis and Barnes could not be reached for comment but in the letter signed by both of them, they accused Brownstein of using scouting to advance the "gay agenda" by participating in the Pride Parade after being told not to. Brownstein says he argued that scouts lead all kinds of cultural celebrations, but Barnes and Davis didn’t agree.
“They felt that this… this cultural celebration was different than any other cultural celebration. Different from the days of ’47, different from the 4th of July, different than a Martin Luther King Day celebration,” says Brownstein.
The letter ends proposing a choice to Brownstein: sign an apology and refrain from disobedience in the future or risk being kicked out of scouting. Brownstein didn’t sign the apology. Instead he wrote a responding letter, pledging to continue working within the organization for change. He says that despite this situation, he is still dedicated to the scouting movement.“Scouting’s been a wonderful program for 103 years, but I think we need to move past the 100 year old model and into something that really is relevant to the youth of today,” says Brownstein.
But it doesn’t appear scout executives with the Great Salt Lake Council are committing to significant change. On Friday last week, they rejected for a second time, an application presented by the Utah Pride Center to charter a scout troop. A unit Peter Brownstein says he would have led as its scoutmaster.