The Boy Scouts are all about building character; the kind of character that says if you’re gay you don’t count, you don’t fit in, you don’t matter. The kind of character that says if you want to practice tolerance, teach tolerance, even be tolerant, you cannot be part of the Boy Scouts of America.
In Washington DC, the Boy Scouts council in charge of overseeing scout programs is threatening to kick out a Maryland troop for posting a statement on its website declaring it won't discriminate against gay scouts. That’s character. You are open and accepting of The Gays? Get out. And, um, stay out.
Last September, the families of Pack 442, in Cloverly, Maryland, anonymously voted and overwhelmingly approved to adopt a non-discrimination statement. Non-discrimination; that's a good thing, or so I thought, but then I am not a Boy Scout.
According to Theresa Phillips, committee chair of Pack 442, the pack wanted approved the statement to show the Boy Scouts of America that they “will not stand for the discrimination of homosexual minors or adults whatsoever."
But after the statement was posted, the National Capital Area Council [NCAC] demanded the pack strike it from their website. Theresa Phillips says, “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."
Building character. And they don’t care who knows it. Les Baron, CEO and Scout Executive of NCAC, says that if Pack 442 doesn’t erase the declaration, "they will not be recognized as an organization, although that's our last resort."
Um, but that appears to be their only resort as none of the parties involve say any other offer or request was put forth. And, if Pack 442 doesn’t conform to BSA Intolerance and Hate, the troop will lose access to member insurance, rank badges, and scout camps.
For being open and accepting of gay scouts.
As the BSA sees more and more corporate sponsors withdrawing support of the group, and sees more and more grass-roots, non-discriminatory alterna-scout troops forming, I hope they’ll see that their policy is disgusting, hateful, wrong, and definitely not a character trait worthy of anyone in the 21st century.
I had hoped that Pack 442 would follow in the footsteps of scouts in Sebastopol, California, who lost their charter for refusing to drop a similar statement, but as of this past Saturday, Pack 442 dropped the statement from their website and has gone back to goose-stepping along with hatred.
According to NBC News this morning, the Boy Scouts of America [BSA] is actively considering an end to its decades-long policy of banning gay scouts or scout leaders. If adopted by the BSA board of directors, it would represent a profound change on an issue that has been highly controversial.
The new policy would eliminate the ban from the national organization’s rules, leaving local sponsoring organizations free to decide for themselves whether to admit gay scouts. Deron Smith, a spokesman for the BSA, says, “The chartered organizations that oversee and deliver scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs [but individual sponsors and parents] would be able to choose a local unit which best meets the needs of their families.”
Sounds good, though my guess is that the BSA hopes their individual groups maintain their anti-gay policies.
Still, maybe now Pack 442 could restate their intent to be a gay-friendly troop on their website, and maybe others will follow suit, and maybe, after decades the BSA will actually be able to say they are teaching real character.