More than 2,500 individuals have signed a petition posted on Change.org urging the Kentucky-based Lincoln Heritage Boy Scouts Council to reinstate respected, well-liked former assistant scoutmaster Greg Bourke.
The father of two adopted children launched the petition after being fired from his post for revealing his homosexuality. The Boy Scouts cling to the antiquated belief that only heterosexuals can be good role models for young boys.
According to a press release sent by Change.org, Bourke is still active in his daughter’s Girl Scouts troop, as that organization does not discriminate against gay youth or leaders. Bourke states in the release:
“For the past five years, I’ve dedicated my time and energy to the Boy Scouts of America and to my community — and loved every minute of it … In return, the Boy Scouts of America has decided to fire me for being honest about who I am and loving my partner for 30 years … It’s not fair to my family. It’s not fair to my community, and it’s not fair to the youth I’ve been so honored to work with.”
Bourke’s ouster stems from a BSA policy dating back to 1991 that bars openly gay individuals from participating in its program at any level. That policy was upheld this past July.
A call to Lincoln Heritage Council Scout Executive Barry G. Oxley II for comment has not yet been returned. Though he did issue a “no comment” to The Courier-Journal when asked for his thoughts on the petition, adding that this is a national policy.
In a plea on the petition site, Bourke encourages folks to support his reinstatement saying:
Among service organizations, the Boy Scouts are increasingly isolating themselves with their discriminatory policy. Organizations including the Girl Scouts, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, as well as the 4H Club all welcome gay kids as well as adult leaders.
We love the Boy Scouts, but we can’t support this policy. That’s why we urge you to speak out against the ban on gay Scouts and leaders and adopt an inclusive policy like other troops, packs, councils, and lodges across the country have done — so the Boy Scouts can maintain its relevancy, improve recruitment, and truly live by the principles it teaches its members.
Among the notable signees of the petition include radio and television personality Terry Meiners. He writes:
Greg Bourke is an exemplary person, a doting father, and a pious, generous, selfless man of integrity. The Boy Scouts organization is mired in confusion when it bans homosexuals as if that means they’re pedophiles. That is a ludicrous assumption based on pure ignorance and blind hatred. Gay parents know all the same challenges as heterosexual parents but are saddled with more challenges because of myopic, ill-conceived barriers put up by self proclaimed spiritual superiors. God is the ultimate judge, not groups of holier-than-thou, judgmental sinners who hide behind religion to mask their own insecurities. Hatred is not a family value.
Bourke’s petition campaign is one of many targeting local Boy Scouts councils, pushing for rejection of the anti-gay policy.