Boy Scout leader says he was forced out because he is gay

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by Gene Kang

WHAS11.com

Posted on August 20, 2012 at 6:32 PM

Updated Monday, Aug 20 at 11:47 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Greg Bourke is described as a role model, caring father and has been with Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in St. Matthews for more than 25 years, but was forced to step down as a leader by the Boy Scouts because he is gay.

"I've become increasingly uncomfortable with the don't ask, don't tell policy of the Boy Scouts," Bourke said.

Bourke lives by the Boyscouts' motto: "be prepared." But said he was never ready to be forced out of Troop 325 last week after five years as a scout leader.

"I still love the Boy Scouts. The only thing I dislike is this policy," he said.

Bourke said he has worked for Humana for 18 years as a systems analyst and has been with his partner for 30 years. He is also the father of two adopted children.

The chairman of the St. Matthews Fire Protection District, Rick Tonini, said Bourke is a quality leader who has helped the WHAS Crusade for Children as a good role model for kids.

When asked for comment, the Boy Scouts of America Lincoln Heritage Council sent WHAS this statement:

"Recently, this leader proactively contacted BSA leadership and disclosed he did not meet Scouting's membership standards. Based on his notification, council leadership met with him and he made the decision to resign as a volunteer leader. As a voluntary, private organization the BSA sets policies that are best for Scouting but does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members."

Admittedly, Bourke said he did write the Boy Scouts a few months ago and came out as a gay man. He did not want to resign but changed his mind when his pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church was told by the Boy Scouts they may lose their Scouting charter.

"This policy is discriminatory. I feel like it's hateful and I don't approve of it," Bourke said.

He will remain as a leader for the Girl Scouts 1575.

In contrast, the Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana said they are more inclusive as a secular organization and do not have a sexual orientation policy like the Boy Scouts, which is based on Christian values.

Their local CEO, Lora Tucker, was candid about her own personal feelings.

"I do believe it's time for the Boyscouts to come in to the current century. There are people that are gay or heterosexual that make incredible leaders and I think that when you discriminate against one, that's what it is discrimination," Tucker said.

Tucker said Bourke has longstanding good history with the Girl Scouts.

His two teenage children are part of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and he said he hopes his voice will be one of many to help change the Boy Scouts' policy one day.

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