Greg Bourke, who has been a registered Scout volunteer for five years, told The Courier-Journal that he relinquished the role last week after the pastor at the church where his troop meets said the facility might lose its Scouting charter if he stayed.
A Boy Scouts policy enacted in 1991 and reaffirmed last month doesn’t allow gays to join. Bourke said after the affirmation, he wrote to Boy Scout executives asking whether he was still welcome.
Barry G. Oxley II of the Boy Scouts’ Lincoln Heritage Council said BSA does not “proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of members.” Oxley said Bourke “proactively contacted BSA leadership” and “disclosed he did not meet Scouting’s membership standards.”
The 54-year-old is the father of an adopted son and daughter and a leader for their Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church.
“He upheld the highest ideals of Scouting,” said Donald E. Overton, a fellow assistant Scoutmaster in Boy Scout Troop 325 and an Episcopal priest.
Bourke said he thinks the policy is “hateful” and “outdated,” but he left because he didn’t want to put the charter in jeopardy.
He is still a leader in the Girl Scout troop. That organization said in a 1991 policy that it “does not intrude into personal matters. Therefore, there are no membership policies on sexual preference.”
Some parents associated with the troop are upset.
Brooke Hinkle said Bourke taught her son, Seth, responsibility both as a Cub Scout and Boy Scout.
“Greg made Seth the person he is,” she said.
Her son was disappointed and angry to find out that Bourke has to resign and is questioning why he wants to be in Scouts.
Oxley said in his statement that Bourke could continue being involved with the troop as a parent.
He also said the organization teaches “our members to treat those with different opinions with courtesy and respect at all times and to adamantly oppose the mistreatment of others based on any perceived difference.”
Bourke said he knew about the policy when he first volunteered, but no one ever questioned his sexual orientation, he said.
He said about three weeks after writing a letter to executives in which he told them he was openly gay, the Lincoln Heritage Council’s commissioner, J. McFerran ``Mac’’ Barr II, approached him and asked for his resignation as ``a simple matter of policy.’’