Gay-Friendly Boy Scouts Group Continues Growing
While the Boy Scouts of America are contemplating whether to overturn its ban on gay scout leaders and members that decision hasn’t come quick enough for some. What started as a small, all inclusive Scouts spin-off organization has doubled in size in just one year.
Navigators USA was started by Robin Bossert, who was leading a Troop 103 in Harlem for homeless families. After the Supreme Court said the BSA could ban gays in 2000, Bossert said he stayed in the organization for three more years while he “tried to see if it was going to be possible to change their policy from within,” according to Mother Jones. When he knew that wasn’t a possibility, Troop 103 became Navigator Chapter 1.
Navigators do many of the same things that Scouts do. They go camping, on outings to museums, and participate in community service. Their inclusiveness of “people of every race, creed, lifestyle and ability” is the main reason for their success. In March of 2012, there were only 19 Navigators chapters. Today, there are 45 chapters in 21 states with an estimated 600 boys and girls enrolled.
Tony Porterfield, a chapter leader in Los Altos, said the organization is growing at 2 chapters a month. The organization has openly gay chapter leaders, as well as board leaders and co-members.
“We wanted our two sons to take part in scouting [and] we wanted to do that within an organization that reflects our family’s values,” Porterfield said. “Inclusiveness and respect for others is part of the Navigators program and something we discuss directly with our children.
The Boy Scouts have decided to postpone the vote on their ban on gay members until May.