Reinstate Boy Scout Leader Dismissed for Being Gay

Target: Boy Scouts of America Executive Barry G. Oxley

Goal: Reinstate gay father as Boy Scout leader.

Greg Bourke is a man in his 50s with a long-term partner and two adopted children. And because he was open and honest about whom he is as a gay man, the Boy Scouts of America forced him to resign his volunteer position.

The Boy Scouts of America has often affirmed its policy that bars gay and lesbian people from participating in the program as scouts or leaders, and its most recent round of upholding this policy has seen a lot of backlash. A woman in Ohio was ousted as a Cub Scout leader for being in a committed same-sex relationship and took her complaints directly to the BSA headquarters in Texas after receiving 300,000 petition signatures calling for her reinstatement. There has been no change in national policy from this, and Bourke was dismissed under the same circumstances.

Although the policy barring membership for gay and lesbian people was instituted at the national level, local troops operate independently. The Northern Star council, which oversees Boy Scout troops in Minnesota and Wisconsin, maintains a policy of inclusive leadership and refuses to turn away leaders simply for being LGBT. Kentucky’s Lincoln Heritage Council should take a page from Northern Star and show a commitment to community unity and non-discrimination by allowing Bourke to resume his post.


Dear Mr. Oxley,

The Boy Scouts of America has held a policy at the national level barring gay and lesbian people from becoming scouts or leaders in the organization for more than 20 years. This discriminatory policy has asked people who want to volunteer with their children to step back from their roles and has dismissed talented and loyal scouts who have come out over the course of their membership. This policy led to Greg Bourke being ousted from your council as a volunteer leader for being honest about who he is. The rules in place effectively ask people to change their identity or not engage in the program, which for certain communities can mean very few options to engage in the same type of work the Boy Scouts provide.

However, the Northern Star Council of Minnesota already challenges this national policy and Wisconsin, which allows for inclusive leadership in its organization and does not discriminate based on sexual orientation. The Lincoln Heritage Council should show its commitment to the values of community and honesty by allowing gay and lesbian people to serve as scouts and leaders, and should begin by reinstating Greg Bourke to his volunteer position.


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