A little over a week ago, the Boy Scouts of America voted to end it’s ban on openly LGBT Scout leaders. However, lifting the ban has not allowed former Scout leader and Scout parent Greg Bourke return as a leader of Boy Scout Troop 325.
Bourke applied to return to his former troop as a leader once the ban was lifted, and on Tuesday his application was denied by Louisville Archdiocese Scott Kurtz.
“My heart is broken that my church would now present the barrier to my returning to my Boy Scout unit,” Bourke stated in a Facebook post Tuesday.
Bourke is not a stranger to the Boy Scouts of America’s – in fact, he’s been involved with BSA for over 8 years in total and served 6 of those years as a registered leader before he was forced to resign 3 years ago after he came out as gay. Since then, he’s been one of the most vocal advocates calling for an end to the ban of openly gay leaders.
Bourke is not a stranger to advocacy either – he and his husband Michel De Leon were plaintiffs in Bourke v. Beshear, a lead case on marriage equality in Kentucky. The case was later consolidated by the U.S. Supreme Court into Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
Unfortunately for Bourke any many others like him, when BSA voted to lift the ban on gay Scout Leaders, they also made exemptions for their religious chartering partners.
In it’s effort to clarify its policy in light of these exemptions, the archdiocese of Our Lady of Lourdes sent a statement to pastors last week, stating, “We have both the right and the responsibility to choose leaders whose character and conduct are consistent with church teaching.”
The statement continued, “Pastoral leaders in these ministries should be able to provide a credible and integrated witness in their lives to the teachings of the Catholic Church, including its teachings on marriage, sexuality, and charity.”
BSA’s vote to end the ban on gay leaders has left many religious groups questioning how to proceed – some even considering ending their relationship with the BSA all together. The Mormon church considered breaking away to form its own youth organization – but end the end decided to stick with BSA. On the other hand, many groups see this as an opportunity for growth.
In response to Archbishop Kurtz’s decision to deny his application for re-entry, Bourke has started an online petition calling on Kurtz to approve his application for membership and end his ban on openly LGBT Scout leaders.