I believe in Scouting. I believe in the values and skills it teaches. I believe in the experiences it provides. Both of my boys have participated in Scouts. I have gladly volunteered as a registered leader with Boy Scouts of America for more than five years. I led a Cub Scout den for most of that time, and for two of those years, I also served as a Cubmaster. I was all in.
This week, I resigned.
This past May, as was widely reported and discussed, the Boy Scouts of America reconsidered its policies toward homosexual individuals. Wonderfully, it chose to allow openly homosexual children to participate in Scouts. However, it also chose to continue to discriminate against openly homosexual adults by barring them from serving as leaders.
Now, the local BSA council – W.D. Boyce – is taking proactive steps to ensure that it can implement these discriminatory policies free from challenge or interference.
The council is approaching Scouting units that are chartered by public school parent-teacher organizations (PTOs) and giving them advice that will lead to their severing their relationships with BSA.
Every Scouting unit is technically “owned” by a chartered organization. That chartered organization signs a contract with BSA that says, in part, that it will abide by all of BSA’s policies. The problem, from the council’s perspective, is that PTOs can’t discriminate since they are affiliated with public institutions. So, BSA wants to get PTOs out of the chartering business somehow. It’s doing that by advising the PTOs that, if they approve a homosexual leader, the charter contract is void, and the PTOs won’t be protected by BSA’s insurance policies should anything go wrong in their Scouting programs. The council is portraying this as each PTO’s choice, but of course, it’s really no choice at all. Once the PTO is out of the way, the council is helping the Scouting units find churches or private civic organizations that are still legally allowed to discriminate. My local Pack in Morton is one of the effected Packs, and these steps by BSA to proactively seek out a path to discriminate are steps too far for me.
I’ll readily admit it took me a long time – probably too long – to get to this point. It hasn’t been a secret that BSA has had a long-standing discriminatory policy toward homosexuals. But as I expressed before, I believe in Scouting. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have invested so much time and energy into it. I did try investigating other youth programs that are similar to Scouts. But in downstate Illinois, those programs really don’t exist. Also, thankfully, the issue of discrimination never came up. And I always comforted myself that, even if it did, somehow my Pack was in a special position because of its chartering by a public institution. Now, that’s ending. Like so many things with people, it’s different when it comes home.
I continue to hope that BSA will realize its error and further correct its policies. But for now, I can no longer be party to such institutionalized and active intolerance.