ONTD Political

Boy Scouts Threaten to Kick Out Troop For Supporting Gay Members

10:29 am - 01/26/2013
The Boy Scouts council in charge of overseeing scout programs in the Washington, DC-area is threatening to kick out a Maryland troop for posting a statement on its website declaring it won't discriminate against gay scouts. The troop has to decide by tomorrow whether to remove the statement.

In September, the families of Pack 442, which is based in Cloverly, Maryland (a small town less than 20 miles from the nation's capital), anonymously voted and overwhelmingly approved to adopt a non-discrimination statement. According to Theresa Phillips, committee chair of Pack 442, the pack wanted Boy Scouts of America to know "we will not stand for the discrimination of homosexual minors or adults whatsoever." Here's the sentence causing the controversy:

"Pack 422 WILL NOT discriminate against any individual or family based on race, religion, national origin, ability, or sexual orientation"

Not long after the statement was posted, the National Capital Area Council (NCAC), one of the bigger local councils of the Boy Scouts of America, asked the pack to strike it from the website. "At first they [said] they would "allow" us to leave it up based on our right to freedom of speech. Now they are doing a 180 and basically asking us to either conform to BSA's discriminatory policy or get out," says Phillips.

Les Baron, CEO and Scout Executive of NCAC, confirms to Mother Jones that if the pack doesn't erase the declaration, "they will not be recognized as an organization, although that's our last resort." That means that the troop will lose access to member insurance, rank badges, and scout camps. The only problem with the statement, Baron acknowledges, is the reference to sexual orientation. "That's a message that's against our policy, and we don't want it continue to be out in our community," Baron says.

In July 2012, the Boy Scouts reaffirmed its ban on gay scouts and scoutmasters, and the organization has been losing financial backers as a result. This isn't the first time the organization has threatened to kick out a troop for welcoming gay members. In 2003, scouts in Sebastopol, California, lost their charter for refusing to drop a similar statement. In 2012 in Ottawa Hills, Ohio and Redlands, California, families were forced to choose between accepting gay members and retaining membership.

"To think that the Boy Scouts would rather cast out elementary school children than accept a parent-approved policy allowing gay children and parents to participate is just unconscionable,” Herndon Graddick, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, tells Mother Jones. “How many young Scouts is the BSA willing to sacrifice in order to preserve its harmful and discriminatory policies? This despicable act of bullying and intimidation is yet another reminder that the BSA is out of touch with its members and the American public at large.”

Baron says that "we're working through our differences with the pack right now." Pack 442's website is hosting an online poll, open to the public but intended for pack families, on whether it should remove the non-discrimination statement. It must decide whether to apply for membership by January 26, so it is closing the poll at 8 PM on Friday. Phillips says the pack has not determined yet whether it will take it down, and is waiting for the poll to determine "how families feel on this matter." According to Pack 442's website, if they do decide to remove it, they plan to return to a "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy.

"Clearly the Council's threat reflects a fear that Boy Scouts of America will crack down on NCAC, which has a lot on the line," says Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout raised by two lesbian mothers, and founder of Scouts for Equality. "It's unfortunate and disappointing that they're bowing to this pressure instead of opposing the ban and being brave, as Scouts swear to do every time they recite the Scout Law."

eveofrevolution 26th-Jan-2013 05:07 pm (UTC)
Good on this troop for going against BSA's discrimination. I wish they would take notice and adopt the same policy as this one troop instead of fighting it =(
sfrlz 26th-Jan-2013 06:10 pm (UTC)
I wish the pro-gay people of Boy Scouts would just break away and found their own, more inclusive organization.
lonebear 26th-Jan-2013 07:23 pm (UTC)
I expect they would love to. But the costs involved are staggering. Lands for camps. Uniform design. Paid professional staff. Etc.

anjak_j 27th-Jan-2013 12:34 am (UTC)
Me too. But sadly, lonebear is right - the involved costs would likely be prohibitive. For a start, you'd need a whole lot of troops going against the BSA grain for it to even begin to be viable.

And then there's the fact that this will be a whole lot of spending for an organisation that will be absorbed back into the BSA when it joins us all in the 21st century.
kyra_neko_rei 27th-Jan-2013 03:23 am (UTC)
I kinda wish the Girl Scouts would decide to become the Scouts and invite this troop and similar-minded troops of Boy Scouts to join it, become gender-neutral, and import various ideas and concepts from the Boy Scouts to make it more like the Boy Scouts in terms of activity offerings. (I will fucking jump for joy if they manage to swipe the Eagle Scout award, though I suppose that might be somewhat tricky from a legal perspective.)

I know my experience is not at all universal, but I was a Girl Scout whose brother was a Boy Scout and I spent far too much of my child and teenage years being jealous at all the stuff my brother got to do as a Boy Scout that my Girl Scout troop never went near.
crooked_halo 27th-Jan-2013 04:05 am (UTC)
Oh, how awesome would that be for the Girl Scouts to become gender neutral and start accepting troops that want to have an anti-discrimination policy into their ranks?
tabaqui 26th-Jan-2013 07:27 pm (UTC)

I just sent an email of support to the pack. They might appreciate more.

eveofrevolution 26th-Jan-2013 07:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the info, I just sent one too!
tabaqui 26th-Jan-2013 08:02 pm (UTC)
anjak_j 27th-Jan-2013 12:44 am (UTC)
I really cannot with these fucking assholes. Adults being dicks to each other is one thing, but adults wielding their hammers of discrimination to shatter the hopes and dreams of children are the worst kind of people and should be stamped out of fucking existence. Preferably by a shiny rainbow boot that comes down from high above.
boundbyash 27th-Jan-2013 08:34 am (UTC)
This is the same organization that not too long ago was keeping quiet about people in the BSA who were known to be pedophiles. So while their current actions disgust me, they don't surprise me. What I would love to see is a massive, countrywide outpouring of support for the Maryland troop, because prejudice has no place in the BSA. EVERY boy should be allowed to participate.
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