Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Anti-gay activist released from Canadian jail and back in United States

 Peter LaBarbera under arrest by Regina Police 
By Brody Levesque | NAPIER, Illinois -- Anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera is back home in Illinois after spending 24 hours in custody for violation of Canadian law, after his arrest along with Saskatchewan anti-abortion/anti-gay  advocate Bill Whatcott. The pair were arrested and charged with criminal mischief on Monday after demonstrating against homosexuality and abortion at the University of Regina.
LaBarbera told LGBTQ Nation Tuesday evening that he is scheduled to appear in court on May 26 to answer the charges. He also said that he was detained overnight by the Regina Police and after a discussion with the Canadian Border Services Agency officers Tuesday, he agreed to voluntarily cut his visit to Saskatchewan short.  "I was scheduled to fly out Thursday anyway," LaBarbera said. The Regina Police Service held LaBarbera in custody overnight at CBSA’s request according to a police spokesperson.
LaBarbera had been initially denied entry to Canada on April 10 under its hate speech law but he appealed and was granted a stay under agreement he would leave the country by April 17 and that, "I would not violate Canadian law," he said.
He added that he didn't think his appearance along with Whatcott and his two supporters, who carried signs with images of aborted fetuses, distributing anti-gay literature outside the University's Riddell Centre would be a violation of his agreement with the Border Services Agency. LaBarbera noted that he and Whatcott had planned to hold a similar protest at the University of Saskatchewan on Wednesday.
LaBarbera also said that he wants to clear this up with the help of an attorney he's retained to hopefully prevent being barred from future entry into Canada.

Monday, April 14, 2014

American anti-gay hate group leader arrested in Canada

Peter La Barbera being placed under arrest
STAFF REPORTS | REGINA, Saskatchewan (CBC) -- Peter LaBarbera an anti-gay activist and Bill Whatcott a Canadian anti-abortion activist were arrested Monday at the University of Regina for violating a no trespass instruction given by University Security officials. LaBarbera, the head of the Americans for Truth about Homosexuality, a Southern Poverty Law Center listed anti-gay hate group American, and Whatcott were taken into custody by Regina Police officers after being instructed to leave the school's campus or risk being arrested.
LaBarbera and Whatcott were in Weyburn over the weekend to speak at a pro-life conference. They were at the school attempting to hand out anti-abortion and anti-gay pamphlets, flanked by large placards depicting aborted fetuses.
LaBarbera was briefly detained at the Regina airport last week, but was allowed into Saskatchewan to participate in an anti-abortion conference in Weyburn, Sask., on the weekend.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Anti-gay Peter LaBarbera detained at Canadian Airport

By Brody Levesque | REGINA, Saskatchewan --  The head of an American anti-gay conservative group was detained by Canadian Border Services Agency officials Thursday at the Regina Saskatchewan airport.
Peter LaBarbera, the head of the Americans for Truth about Homosexuality, a group that has been listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its anti-gay rhetoric, was scheduled to speak at the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association in Weyburn this weekend.
Human Rights and LGBT Activists who were opposed to LaBarbera's visit based on his history as an anti-gay activist had complained to Canadian authorities that his intended speech might violate Canada's strict laws that protect minorities including the LGBTQ community from what is termed "hate propaganda." 
According to the Americans for Truth About Homosexuality  website and his Twitter feed, LaBarbera states that he “had been flagged as a result of a campaign by the leftist group Intolerance Free Weyburn” as an “alleged purveyer of ‘hate.’”
“After questioning me about the purpose of my scheduled presentation at the SPLA event; rifling through my luggage, which contained numerous books and literature related to homosexuality (pro and con); examining the contents of my laptop and my cell phone; playing a DVD of my speech Wednesday at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio; and critically viewing AFTA’s website – a preliminary decision was made to deny my entrance into Canada on the basis that my speech at the SPLA would violate Canada’s ‘Hate Propaganda’ law (essentially the potential for ‘public incitement of hatred’ against a group of people based on their ‘sexual orientation’),” he stated.
LaBarbera said the “Orwellian experience at customs dragged on for more than three hours as a formal document was issued outlining my denial of entry under Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.”
LaBarbera also said that his topic at the pro-life conference is the link between "pro-abortion and homosexual activism."
LaBarbera said he was released temporarily to the custody of Bill Whatcott, a prominent anti-gay and anti-abortion activist in Canada and was ordered to return Friday to appear before a board of the Canada Border Services Agency at Regina International Airport.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Today's top trending stories from LGBTQ Nation Magazine

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Lesbian partner's name on Tennessee birth certificate could prove temporary

Valeria Tanco (L) & Sophy Jesty with their newborn daughter
Photo Credit: REUTERS/Wade Payne
STAFF REPORTS | KNOXVILLE (Reuters) -- A baby girl whose parents are part of a same-sex federal lawsuit in Tennessee is the first child born in the state to have a woman listed on the birth certificate as her "father."
Emilia Maria Jesty was born last month just after U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger issued the preliminary injunction barring the state from enforcing laws prohibiting recognition of her mothers' marriages.
In her written memorandum, Judge Trauger made clear that her order is only temporary and only applies to the three same-sex couples.
Valeria Tanco and Sophy Jesty got married in New York in 2011 and now live in Knoxville, where they teach at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.
They are among scores of same-sex couples who, working with advocacy groups, have filed lawsuits to expand gay-marriage rights following a major U.S. Supreme Court decision last June allowing federal tax and other benefits for same-sex married couples. 
The state has appealed to the 6th Circuit and dependent on the outcome of the appellate court's ruling, it is expected that Tanco and Jesty's case or a similar challenge could reach the Supreme Court.
“It’s the first nail in the coffin of discriminating against same-sex married couples in Tennessee,” said Abby Rubenfeld, one of the attorneys for the same-sex couples. “Every single court that has considered these same issues has ruled the same way.”
It is possible a ruling against the couple could void Emilia's birth certificate and require that it be reissued with only Tanco listed. A spokeswoman for Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper declined to comment, as did a spokesman for the state Health Department, which oversees birth certificates.
The head of a conservative organization that intervened in the lawsuit said Trauger’s decision thwarts the will of 80 percent of Tennesseans who voted to support a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
“While today’s decision by federal Judge Trauger is not a final ruling, she has clearly signaled her intent to continue the war by unelected federal judges against the rights of states and the citizens of that state to determine what its policies regarding marriage should be,” David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee said in an emailed statement.
Compiled from staff and wire service reports

Minnesota's Governor signs 'Safe Schools Act'

Tammy & Anthony Aaberg, Rep. Scott Dibble, Rep.Jim Davnie & Ann Erickson Gettis
Photo Courtesy of Tammy Aaberg
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act into law today on the steps of the state Capitol.  He was accompanied by members of the LGBT advocacy community who have long championed an expansion of Minnesota's laws regarding bullying.
The final bill requires school leaders to develop a comprehensive anti-bullying policy, train staff to prevent bullying and quickly investigate allegations. Current state law requires school districts to have a bullying policy but doesn't include details on what the policy should contain.
Tammy Aaberg who helped lobby for the law and who lost her 15 year old son Justin in July of 2010 after his suicide brought on she says by bullying because he was gay, is grateful for the hard work of the lawmakers and her fellow supporters over the past few years to get this measure passed.
"I'm so very happy the Safe and Supportive Schools bill finally passed and that other kids will have the protection that they need," she said.
The law was faced considerable opposition from anti-gay self described pro-family conservative groups who accused its supporters of advancing a social agenda. The controversial bullying prevention section, which specifies "students cannot be bullied for their sexual orientation or gender identity," has drawn significant attention as the opponents claimed that it amounted to special protection for LGBT youth and advanced "a gay agenda."
The bill had passed the Senate last week with a 36-31 vote with all Republicans and three Democrats voting against it. Tuesday's House session was acrimonious and debate from House Republicans ran for nearly 12 hours before the final vote which occurred shortly before 12:30 a.m Wednesday. The bill passed on a 69-63 vote, mostly along party lines.
Some Republicans expressed concern that the legislation would force school districts to teach young students about sexuality. This prompted Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe, to claim that it [the bill] could expose students to "filthy, perverted information."
Other Republicans said the bill itself amounted to bullying, described it as fascism and compared it to George Orwell's novel "1984," about a state completely controlled by the government. They argued that it would override freedom of religion and freedom of speech.
"The Democrats want access into your private life," said Rep. Jim Newberger, R-Becker. "If this isn't a mirror image of '1984,' I don't know what is. The only difference is George Orwell was off by 30 years."
Jim Davnie, DFL-Minneapolis, the chief sponsor of the measure in the House, said the legislation is needed to ensure students felt safe at school and he repeatedly also stated that the bill has nothing to do with curriculum about sex.
"Sexuality and health education is local control and not affected by this bill," Davnie said. "There has been a lot of misinformation about this bill. The perception it deals with sexuality education is not correct. 
We talk about this being about anti-bullying, and it is. It's also about positioning Minnesota as a leader in the next generation of education reform," he said.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Today's Trending Stories from LGBTQ Nation Magazine

Monday, April 7, 2014

SC lawmakers claim university program designed to recruit lesbians

STAFF REPORTS | COLUMBIA -- Issues about LGBT people in the state's colleges and universities continues to dominate the attention and ire of South Carolina lawmakers. The latest controversy stems from a program that was to be presented in a LGBT symposium hosted by the University of South Carolina Upstate  that included a lecture titled, “How to be a lesbian in 10 days or less.”
That lecture drew the anger of State Senator Mike Fair(R) who alleges that university students are being "recruited" to be gay.
"It's just not normal and then you glorify, or it seems to me, that the promotion at USC is glorification of same sex orientation,” Fair told local media outlets adding “That's not an explanation of 'I was born this way.’  It's recruiting,” he said.
The assistant vice chancellor for USC Upstate communications, Tammy E. Whaley, sent local television station WYFF a statement that read:
“The title of ‘How to Become a Lesbian in 10 Days or Less,’ while deliberately provocative, is satirical in nature but has not been received as such. The controversy surrounding this performance has become a distraction to the educational mission of USC Upstate and the overall purpose of the Bodies of Knowledge symposium. As a result, we have canceled this segment of the symposium.”
Last month lawmakers voted to cut $70,000 collectively from the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina Upstate. 
The House rejected multiple attempts to restore $52,000 cut from the College of Charleston in the state budget, and $17,142 cut from the University of South Carolina Upstate. Those are the amounts the universities spent on books assigned to their incoming freshmen last summer. The efforts failed by votes of 69-41, 70-43, 71-40 and 71-38.
College of Charleston students read “Fun Home,” a book by Alison Bechdel that describes her childhood with a closeted gay father and her own coming out as a lesbian. USC Upstate assigned “Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio,” referring to South Carolina’s first gay and lesbian radio show, for a freshmen course that included lectures and other out-of-classroom activities meant to spark discussions about the book.
Representative Garry Smith(R), whose House subcommittee made the reductions, said he wanted to make a point after college officials declined to give students an option to read something else. He said he wouldn’t oppose the books if they were part of an elective course. He called it promotion of a lifestyle.
“Freedom comes with responsibility. These universities did not act responsibly,” said Smith, R-Simpsonville.
Gail Stephenson, president of the LGBT equality rights group Upstate Pride, said lawmakers are being unfair to both the university and its students.
“Diversity is diversity.  And we can't just say we are going to choose this part of diversity, but we're not going to choose this part of diversity.  Then what's next?  Are we going to cut out women's studies?  Racial integration?” said Gail Stephenson.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Saginaw, Michigan looks at passing LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance

STAFF REPORTS | SAGINAW -- A proposed ordinance that would protect city LGBT residents and visitors providing equal treatment in employment and public accommodations, will be introduced before the Saginaw City Council Monday. But due to a city charter provision, cannot be considered for approval until the City Council's second meeting later this month.
The ordinance would "ban discrimination against someone based on that person's "actual or perceived sex, sexual orientation or gender identity." Violations of the ordinance would be considered civil infractions and violators could face a fine of up to $500.
"When I found out that the city did not have an ordinance in place protecting the LGBT community when it came to public accommodation and employment, I thought it was something very obvious that needed to change," Saginaw City Councilwoman Annie Boensch, the measure's sponsor told Michigan media outlet MLive
The proposed measure has already come under fire from conservative groups including the American Family Association of Michigan, which has opposed allowing same-sex marriage in the state along with anti-discrimination ordinances in other Michigan communities, that would protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in jobs, housing and public accommodations.
"We consider these ordinances to be, themselves, discriminatory," AFA-MI president Gary Glenn said."It's a discriminatory solution in response to a nonexistent problem." Glenn added that there are dozens of examples of how such an ordinance could harm people. 
"We would, of course, encourage the Saginaw City Council to do as the Bay County Commission did, and that is to defeat this discriminatory ordinance that threatens to punish and penalize people on the basis of their moral and religious values and opposition to homosexual activity and the political agenda that promotes it," he said.
Councilwoman Boensch noted that her proposal defers from Glenn's cited example. The Bay County proposal, defeated narrowly in a 4-3 vote, sought to ban any discriminatory practices in county employment and contract practices. Saginaw's ordinance would be much more inclusive applying to any businesses or organizations providing employment or "public accommodations" within Saginaw city limits. "This is not what Bay County was looking at," she said. "This is citywide." 
The city's mayor and city council are open to discussion and willing to consider the ordinance.
"I think we need to introduce it before we discuss it in depth," Mayor Dennis Browning said. "I'm open-minded and am certainly willing to have some debate on it." 
Browning said his two areas of concern deal with enforcement and what impacts, positive or negative, passing it might have on the city government and Saginaw's citizens. "My questions are who is going to enforce it and what will it cost the community," he said. "Those are things we need to discuss."

Friday, April 4, 2014

North Carolina Community College battles Transgender student over alleged discrimination

Central Piedmont Community College
By Matt Comer | CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Qnotes) – Several dozen students and community members gathered Friday afternoon to protest alleged discrimination at Central Piedmont Community College, calling on the college to apologize to a transgender student who says she was mistreated and harassed at the school.
Andraya Williams, 22, alleges CPCC security officers questioned her gender, escorted her off campus and suspended her from classes as she was exiting a restroom and heading to the campus’ library before a class on March 18.
Williams said a female campus security officer stopped her and asked her if she is male or female. Williams said she was female, to which the officer laughed, she says.
“I don’t understand why I was suspended and escorted off campus,” Williams says. “They were really just treating me like I had just robbed a bank or like I was a real criminal.”
Additionally, Williams and her attorney, Sarah Demarest, say that campus officials worked to prevent her from filing a complaint regarding the incident. Williams says she met with Dean of Student Life Mark Helms on March 19.
Helms, Williams maintains, said she was suspended for refusing to show her ID, but Williams and Demarest insist she did so immediately when the first officer asked for it. Williams also says Helms told her she must use gender-neutral restrooms, of which she is aware of only two on campus.
Helms also allegedly told Williams that she needed to provide the school “medical proof” she is female.
“I’m confused because everyone involved in the situation knows I was suspended for being a transgender person using a female restroom and they put it on paper that I was suspended for not showing my ID,” Williams says.
On Thursday, the school also released its first formal, written statement on the incident;
“The College has examined its policies and procedures, and we are certain that they are in compliance with current laws. The College will work to ensure those policies are followed and clearly communicated,” CPCC spokesperson Jeff Lowrance said.
Lowrance had no comment on the protest Friday afternoon. He did say, however, that the school intends to begin reaching out to and planning meetings with LGBT community groups and leaders next week.
The college has also fired back against reports that Williams was suspended. The school has denied she was suspended and said she is in good standing as a current student.
“True suspension from the college can come only through the student discipline process,” Lowrance said Friday afternoon. “There is no suspension on the student’s CPCC record. She is in good standing with the college.”
More in-depth coverage on this developing story here.

© QNotes.
An LGBTQ Nation media partner.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Belgian Prime Minister pleads gay rights to African leaders

BRUSSELS -- Belgium's openly gay Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo urged African leaders attending an EU-Africa summit to respect the rights of minorities, particularly those victimised for their sexual orientation.
Di Rupo spoke Wednesday evening at the welcome dinner for EU and African dignitaries which included the presidents of Uganda and Nigeria, where draconian anti-gay laws were recently implemented resulting in international condemnation and suspension of financial aid by EU members and the United States.
"We can not tolerate that some are denied their rights and persecuted for their origins, their sexual orientation, their religion and their convictions." Di Rupo said.
The 4th EU-Africa Summit brought together EU and African leaders to discuss the future of EU-Africa relations and reinforce links between the two continents. In the summit declaration, leaders highlighted the close nature of EU-Africa relations and the shared values of democracy, respect for human rights, the rule of law and good governance as well as the right to development. Many African countries, with the notable exception of South Africa, have laws that ban or repress homosexuality.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who attended the summit, signed a bill earlier this year that calls for "repeat homosexuals" to be jailed for life and requires people to report homosexuals.
Nigeria in January banned same-sex marriage and civil unions while same-sex relationships could trigger a death sentence under Sharia Islamic law which applies along with federal law in the north of the country. There have already been several documented cases of violence against the LGBTQ community in Nigeria since the law's passage.

Minnesota Senate passes anti-bullying “Safe and Supportive Schools Act”

ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota State Senate voted Thursday to pass the “Safe and Supportive Schools Act,” a bill, which would require all Minnesota school districts to develop and enforce a plan to reduce bullying. The vote was 36-31 after a marathon debate that at times was contentious.
The bill as passed now needs to be reconciled with the House version passed a year ago before it heads to Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton for his signature.
The legislation faced considerable opposition from special interest groups representing school superintendents, school board members and rural school districts, who see the state delving deep into school policies along with right wing christian conservative groups who claimed that some students could get labeled bullies for expressing religious views opposing LGBT equality.
The bill would require all Minnesota public schools to adopt written policies on bullying prevention and designate a staff member to implement the policy.
School employees and volunteers would be trained to spot bullying and be required to “make a reasonable effort to address and resolve the prohibited conduct.”
"(Children) should be able to expect to go to school feeling safe, feeling supportive; not having to make that trade off. We'll see kids who are reluctant to go to school, or even staying away from school, or feeling like they have to switch schools, going to their own school and not having to worry about it," said Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis) the measure's sponsor said shortly before the vote.
Alec Fischer, a 20-year-old University of Minnesota student in Minneapolis, has advocated in favor of the bill.
“I testified last year in front of a few committees, I've talked to senators about it. I’ve done bullying prevention seminars across the Midwest, and I've seen an overwhelming amount of students crying out for help,” said Fischer,who recently made a documentary film about school bullying.
Fischer, who grew up in nearby Edina, said students who believed he was gay bullied him during middle school. Excluded from social activities, he grew suicidal but concealed it from his parents for several years, he said.
The proposal law is “all about helping students — both bullies and the bullied — adapt in those situation, and to come to a point where everyone is more focused on understanding each other,” Fischer said. “It’s got to be a culture change, and that doesn't happen overnight.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Federal Judge rules discrimination case against Library of Congress by gay man can move forward

U. S. District Court Building for the District of Columbia
By Brody Levesque | WASHINGTON -- U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled Monday that a gay man's discrimination lawsuit against the Library of Congress can move forward.
Peter TerVeer, a former management analyst, had sued the Library of Congress in 2012 under Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 ban on sex discrimination, claiming that he faced discrimination after his boss found out that he was gay.
The lawsuit charges that his supervisor John Mech and library official Nicholas Christopher, Mech’s immediate supervisor, further violated Title VII by retaliating against TerVeer when he attempted to challenge their actions in an internal library complaint.
“Mech imposed his sex stereotypes and fundamentalist religious beliefs on homosexuality upon the plaintiff, resulting in a hostile working environment,” the lawsuit alleges.
In her 34 page opinion, U. S. District Court Judge Kollar-Kotelly rejected an argument by the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia that TerVeer had not proved standing to pursue a claim that he was not covered under the guidelines of Title VII as he was alleging grounds of illegal sex discrimination based on gender stereotyping as a gay man.
The Judge also denied a motion by the U. S. Attorney to dismiss the claim in a summary judgement. But, she did grant another portion of the defence motion and dismissed a claim that the Library of Congress violated TerVeer’s constitutional rights as well as violated Library of Congress regulations and policies.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act bans discrimination based on race, religion, ethnicity, and gender. Recent legal precedent has been set in federal court rulings that expand its definition to include gender identity, but not sexual orientation by itself.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

LGBT Activist Sues Chinese Government

Xiang Xiaohan  * Photo courtesy of Xiang Xiaohan 
CHANGSHA, China -- A 20-year-old a LGBT rights activist from Hunan Province has become the first person to sue a Chinese governmental body for LGBT equality. Xiang Xiaohan (a pseudonym) filed lawsuit in the provincial capital, Changsha, after the Hunan government turned down his application to register his LGBT equality rights group his organisation.
Xiaohan received an official letter of refusal claimed that Xiang had no legal basis for setting up an LGBT organization and that it went against “traditional Chinese culture and the social construction of morality.”
The response, considered by Xiaohan and his fellow activists to be homophobic, also stated: “According to the Marriage Law, marriage must include one man and one woman, so the law does not approve of homosexual marriages or relationships.” Xiaohan’s lawsuit, was filed on February 19, and demanded a retraction and a published apology.
The Changsha court dismissed the case last month on March 14, ruling that the letter didn’t defame homosexuals and simply offered “administrative guidance.” Xiaohan said he plans to appeal.
“If we can't force the civil affairs department of the Hunan government to withdraw what it said on homosexuality, then other government bodies would likely follow its example, and this would cause irreparable psychological damage to gay and lesbian people,” Xiaohan told the BBC. 
“If gay and lesbian people have no place in China’s traditional culture, how can you encourage them to pursue the [Chinese] Dream?”
Xiaohan founded his group, Same-Sex Love Assistance Network, in 2009. Acceptance by the local government, he claims, would make it easier for him to hold fundraisers and public events (though, technically, only state-run NGOs are approved).
Until it was abolished in 1997, China’s controversial “hooligan law” criminalized homosexual activity. The Chinese Psychiatric Association also listed homosexuality as a mental disease until a 2001 revision.
Despite the case’s dismissal, some view the fact that a Chinese court even considered the case at all to be a small victory.
“It is the first time in China that a local government department has formally given a written reply to a request from the gay and lesbian community, whereas in the past the government would just simply ignore it,” said Yu Fang Qiang, a spokesperson for Nanjing-based anti-discrimination NGO Justice For All.
There are an estimated 30 million LGBT individuals in China. In a country that holds fast to traditional customs and family values, many are forced to live double lives.
Analysts say Xiaohan's high profile protest has offered a rare glimpse into the extent to which attitudes towards homosexuality in China have changed.

Boy Scouts kick openly gay troop leader out

Geoff McGrath via NBC News
SEATTLE -- The Boy Scouts of America banned an openly gay Scoutmaster Monday, citing its national policy that bars gay adults from BSA membership.
Geoff McGrath, 49, a former Eagle Scout and BSA Leader who helped found the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church Boy Scout Troop 98, is thought to be the first gay adult leader to have his BSA membership revoked since the organisation's controversial internal ballot initiative nearly a year ago that allowed gay youth—but not adults—to participate.
“It’s extremely disappointing to not be fully supported and defended in my membership,” McGrath told NBC News. “They are complaining that the problem [his status as an openly gay man] is a distraction to Scouting and they don't seem to understand that the distraction is self-inflicted.”
BSA spokesman Deron Smith said that it wasn't until an inquiry from the press that the organisation was aware of McGrath's sexual orientation; “Our policy is that we do not ask people about their sexual orientation, and it’s not an issue until they deliberately inject it into Scouting in an inappropriate fashion."  Smith acknowledged that BSA officials questioned McGrath and revoked his membership afterwards but McGrath maintains that he didn't hide his sexual orientation from Scouting leaders initially.
“There would not be a troop at Rainier Beach United Methodist Church unless it was fully inclusive,” said Reverend Dr. Monica Corsaro, the church's pastor said in a statement.
The Boy Scouts claims that Geoff was looking to advance a ‘personal agenda.’ The only agenda Geoff was advancing was that of the Boy Scouts’ Vision - to prepare youth to become responsible leaders through the Scouting program.”
Scouts for Equality co-founder Zach Wahls told LGBTQ Nation in an emailed statement.
“If this unit had not been inclusive, it would not have existed. [...] the BSA is depriving these youth of the opportunity to be a Scout and they are telling all their youth that discrimination is okay. That’s a harmful message for all youth, gay and straight alike, and it has no place in Scouting.”
The United Methodist Church is the Boy Scouts of America’s second largest chartered (ie sponsor) organization, accounting for more than 10,000 units and 363,000 youth nationwide. Rainier Beach UMC is part of the Reconciling Ministries Network, made up of over 600 United Methodist communities across the country who welcome and affirm LGBTQ people. There are over 70 other Scouting units chartered to Reconciling Congregations throughout the United States.