Chicago’s Center On Halsted Becomes First LGBT Group To Sponsor Boy Scout Troop

"This can be a model for the rest of the country on inclusion and leadership."

Now that the Boy Scouts has lifted its ban on gay members, the first LGBT group to sponsor a BSA troop has emerged: Chicago’s Center on Halsted, the city’s chief LGBT community center, is now looking for Scout leaders for a Boy Scout pack welcoming first through fifth graders.

A Girl Scout troop has been based out of the center for three years.


The pack will include a mix of people “drawn here because of proximity and people intentionally seeking it out” because it is a focal point for the local LGBT community, said center spokesman Peter Johnson said.

“This can be a model for the rest of the country on inclusion and leadership,” said Mary Anderson, a lesbian mom who spearheaded local efforts to overturn the Scouts’ ban on LGBT leaders.

That ban was lifted earlier this year, two years after the Boy Scouts stopped excluding gay Scouts.

Boy Scouts

“We still have a long ways to go,” said Jessica Sage Celimene-Rowell, an Eagle Scout and Center on Halsted’s trans advocate.

“It’s not like all of a sudden there’s going to be all these non-heterosexual people invading Boy Scouts. We’ve already been there. I’ve been there.”

Which brings to mind—what is the Scouts’ policy regarding trans members and leaders?

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.