My name is Greg Bourke, and I need your help. Recently, the Boy Scouts of America forced me to step down as Assistant Scoutmaster of my son's Boy Scout troop, just because I'm gay. Despite the protest of my troop, my church, and my community, the Boy Scouts message was clear: gay youth and parents are inferior, and not welcome. That's an incredibly dangerous message to send to young people in our community, so I'm asking United Way, which is a major donor to the Boy Scouts, to denounce this hurtful anti-gay policy.
Across the country and around the globe, United Way builds stronger communities by supporting families and children. In fact, my partner of 30 years, Michael De Leon, and I are great believers in the mission of the United Way, and we back it up as members of the Tocqueville Society (major United Way donors). But local United Ways are also some of the biggest funders to the Boy Scouts of America. And when the United Way gives money to a discriminatory organization, it damages the integrity and reputation of the entire organization.
Luckily, many local United Ways have already stepped up and decided that they cannot financially support organizations that discriminate against families and children in their communities. If the BSA won't end their national ban on gay Scouts and leaders, then the United Way should make sure that none of its chapters continue to fund anti-gay discrimination. And they can do just that at their annual national Staff Leaders Meeting this April.
After being forcibly removed in August 2012 from my position as Assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 325 in Louisville, KY, I received unanimous support from my Troop, Troop Committee, Church, Scouts, Scout Leaders and Scout Parents. In September 2012, I received a special "Legislative Citation" from the State of Kentucky House of Representatives honoring me and my dedication to Scouting and service to my community.
My family is not any different from other families in our community. We have been very active members of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Louisville, Kentucky for over 25 years. We have two adopted children, ages 13 and 15, a girl and a boy. I have been a Girl Scout leader for seven years, and was a Cub/Boy Scout leader for over five years -- until I was forced to resign. My son is a Life Scout who should finish up his Eagle Rank requirements in the next few months, and I was with him every step of the way -- at least until recently, when I was told I no longer could. I have been fully trained by both the Girl Scouts of America and the Boy Scouts of America, passed numerous background checks, and have been what many consider a model Scout leader.
United Way has a unique opportunity to help families like mine. By speaking out, they would be joining the American Medical Association, who as far back as 2001 urged the Boy Scouts to end their ban on gay youth and parents because the policy could cause psychological trauma in young people.
Please join me in urging United Way to denounce the Boy Scouts' national anti-gay policy, and pull future funding should the Boy Scouts uphold the ban on gay youth and parents.
By speaking out, United Way would be joining the American Medical Association, who as far back as 2001 urged the Boy Scouts to end their ban on gay youth and parents because the policy could cause psychological trauma in young people.
If the BSA won't end their national ban on gay Scouts and leaders, then the United Way should make sure that none of its chapters continue to fund anti-gay discrimination. I hope you'll vote to stop funding organizations that discriminate at your annual national meeting in April.