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Boy Scouts Reject Utah Pride Center Troop Application

Andrea Smardon

The Boy Scouts have rejected an application for a scouting troop sponsored by the Utah Pride Center. The gay rights organization recently asked permission to start a troop for 10 middle-school aged children. 

Utah Pride Center Executive Director Valerie Larabee says her organization spent four months preparing a proposal that would adhere to Scouts’ standards. They made clear that the troop’s leaders were all straight individuals. As for the children, they would not be asked to disclose their sexuality. But the application was rejected by the Great Salt Lake Council, who received guidance from the national Boy Scouts of America.

“Our team was disappointed in that decision, particularly where there wasn’t any conversation, and our application was handed back in total including business cards, as if to be dismissed, perhaps even like they didn’t want to acknowledge that we had made an application,” says Larabee.

Boy Scouts of America declined an interview, but spokesman Deron Smith said in a statement that the mission of Utah Pride Center doesn’t align with the goals of Boy Scouts. Larabee says the Boy Scouts rejection of gay youth is inconsistent with recent messages of acceptance from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

“We have to address the inconsistencies that abound about how and where gay youth can be who they are, particularly in this state. We’re sending very mixed signals, and I think that these kids deserve more than that,” says Larabee.

The Boy Scouts national executive board is currently considering a proposal to move away from its no-gays membership policy or create a local option that would give the decision to the individual troops. The board is expected to decide in May.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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