|Denise Steele and her family.|
Denise Steele is a mom who has been part of her son's Boy Scout troop for the past six years. She began as a den mother for her son, Jackson, because no other parent would step up and take on being a Cub Scout troop leader.
No other parent.
And she was good, too. Jackson's troop excelled at everything, including accomplishing badges and winning the Blue and Gold Award all five years, one of the highest awards for Boy Scouts. Did she do it for the Scouts? No; she did it for her son, and those other boys, to make sure they had a good time, and because no other parent wanted the job.
No other parent.
But last June other parents did step up, and now Denise Steele’s chances to further bond with her son through scouting were dashed.
See, she was removed, removed, from her position after an assistant scoutmasters discovered that Denise Steele is a lesbian, and in a nineteen year domestic partnership with Jackie Funk. The couple lives in Potomac Falls with their two children, Jackson and Jaden, and Denise Steele’s nephew Will.
Still, Denise Steele’s homosexuality was never an issue in the past, with regards to leading her son’s Boy Scout troop. In fact, according to Denise's partner, Jackie, it may have actually opened some eyes to gay parents and gay parenting: “Some of the guys would come down and ask her advice. Being a woman, forget about the gay part, it didn’t matter. They respected her for her commitment and what she offered and how much she put into it. They respected her.”
As did the boys, all of whom stayed in Steel's troop the entire five years; except for two boys, who moved away. But that doesn't matter. it doesn't matter that she was the only parent to step up. it doesn't matter that her troop excelled. it doesn't matter that the boys loved her. What matters, according to Phil Holliday, the executive pastor at Christian Fellowship Church, and Esther Schaeffer, the charter organization representative, is "the rules".
When a chartered partner, like Christian Fellowship Church, agrees to sponsor a scouting unit, an annual charter agreement is signed. In that contract, they agree to provide a place for a meeting, select volunteer leaders and follow the policies and guidelines established by the Boy Scouts of America. Which doesn't allow homosexuals to be Scouts or leaders or involved in any way, even if they are the only way to keep a troop together.
The Boy Scouts of America organization says it believes that “open homosexuality is inconsistent with the values” and recommends that scout parents and sponsors share this belief.
Parents. Like all those parents who didn't step up when Denise Steele did. She even finished the year-long training to become an assistant scout leader in just three weeks because she wanted to do this for her sons. And she even went to the scoutmaster, Mike Tucker, and told him she was gay, and in a nearly twenty years, and he said it wasn't a problem.
Until this past June when Steele took her troop on a camping trip to Assateague Island. Since the trip lasted from a Saturday to a Monday, and Steele needed to work Monday, she asked Jackie Funk, her partner, to pick her up from the campsite.
After she left one asshatted busybody, assistant scoutmasters, Skip Inabinett, began asking questions about the woman who'd come to take Denise Steele to work.And after discovering that Denise and Jackie were a couple, asshatted busybody, assistant scoutmaster Skip Inabinett decided she should be removed as an assistant scoutmaster.
Asshatted busybody, assistant scoutmaster, Skip, Skippy, Skipper, Inabinett, sent an email to a close friend of Denise Steele's, whose son was also in the troop, saying, “If what you said about Denise Steele being an active sexual is true, do you feel comfortable talking with her about stepping down/resigning as an ASM … as her friend, this may be an opportunity for you to share with her about Christ’s love and the need to believe that as sinners we cannot get to heaven on our own and that we need a savior.”
The conversations centered around how Inabinett thought Steele’s lifestyle choice was a sin. In fact, asshatted busybody, assistant scoutmaster Skip Inabinett actually began speaking to Denise Steele about her, um, lifestyle choice, in what Jackie Funk described as an episode of bullying: "[T]his guy, who’s demonstrated very much a bullying behavior, if boys bullied other boys or girls bullied other girls to get what they wanted the way this guy has bullied her in today’s school system you’d probably get kicked out of school.”
And there is a chain of command that people follow in the Boy Scouts, but asshatted busybody, assistant scoutmaster Skip Inabinett went straight to the Boy Scouts of America with his complaint to get her removed as an assistant scoutmaster.
And it worked.
Denise Steele: “He didn’t go through those steps. He skipped over the scoutmaster, he skipped over the committee, he skipped over the district. He went straight to the highest level because that’s where he would get his answer. He went to the highest point to get me removed.”
And yet, Deron Smith, the director of public relations for the Boy Scouts of America, says Steele wasn’t removed from the national council , but that it may have been a troop decision.
How so? I mean, if asshatted busybody, assistant scoutmaster Skip Inabinett went all the way to the top, utterly ignoring the troop aspect of the process, then how is that possible that the troop, who apparently adored her, wanted her gone?
And now asshatted busybody, assistant scoutmaster Skip Inabinett is not talking. I mean, his work is done. The lesbian is gone.
I wonder if another parent will step up.
I wonder if another parent will work as hard as Denise Steele.
I wounder if the boys in that troop will learn from Denise Steele how to live ones life, or if they will get their example from asshatted busybody, assistant scoutmaster Skip Inabinett.
I wonder if the Boy Scouts will ever realize that being gay isn't a bad thing, or even a good thing, it's just a thing.