The Boy Scouts council of Washington, DC, is threatening to kick out a suburban Maryland unit for posting a statement supporting gay scouts and scoutmasters on its website.
The families of Pack 442, which serves boys age 7-10, voted unanimously in August to adopt a policy that they “will not discriminate against any individual or family based on race, religion, national origin, ability or sexual orientation.”
The point was to let the Boy Scouts of America know “we will not stand for the discrimination of homosexual minors or adults whatsoever,” said Pack 442 committee chair Theresa Phillips.
The National Capital Area Council, the regional group that oversees Pack 442, caught wind and requested the statement be removed. “At first they [said] they would ‘allow’ us to leave it up, based on our right to freedom of speech,” said Phillips. “Now they are doing a 180 and basically asking us to either conform to BSA’s discriminatory policy or get out.”
The pack has been given a deadline of today, Saturday, to remove the declaration or “they will not be recognized as an organization,” NCAC’s Les Baron told Mother Jones. “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.
According to GLAAD, which has worked on behalf of lesbian den mom Jennifer Tyrrell, the pack is polling parents as to whether or not it should keep the policy and lose its charter. Parents can vote for either:
A. “Keep our current non-discrimination policy on the website, most likely not be rechartered by BSA, and continue to operate but as an independent scout group that openly welcomes all families.”
B. “Remove our non-discrimination policy from the web site, recharter with BSA, and return to a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, welcoming all families.”
GLAAD president Herndon Graddick called the NCAC’s action a “despicable act of bullying intimidation,” and asked, “How many young Scouts is the BSA willing to sacrifice in order to preserve its harmful and discriminatory policies?”
According to Scouts for Equality, 11 councils nationwide, serving over 260,000 Scouts, have taken a stand against the BSA’s anti-gay policies.