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From the headlines...




Massachusetts's largest Boy Scout council took another stride away from the pack Monday by announcing the creation of a diversity award at its annual fundraiser, hosted by an openly gay Boston radio personality.


The Boston Minuteman Council, which last year adopted a nondiscrimination policy despite the national organization's ban on gays, has created a "diversity awareness award badge."


The awards ? which will be given in the fall ? are open to all levels of scouts, scout leaders, and community groups who complete a curriculum of activities promoting diversity, including race, religion and sexual orientation.


And to make sure the Council's policy opposing the ban on gay troop leaders is very clear to the city and to the national troop leaders, the council invited Boston's WBZ radio host David Brudnoy to be master of ceremonies.


"There are a lot of straight guys out there who could do this," Brudnoy said Monday. "[The council] said, 'We want to signal, through you, our nondiscrimination policy."'


The council's nondiscrimination policy, developed after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled two years ago that the Boy Scouts of America can exclude gays as troop leaders, essentially keeps scout leaders' sex lives private. It says its 18,000 members will be served "without regard to color, race, religion, ethnic background, sexual orientation, or economic status."


The national organization has maintained that "an avowed homosexual cannot serve as a role model for the traditional moral values espoused in the Scout Oath and Law and that these values cannot be subject to local option choices."


Brock Bigsby, scout executive for the Minuteman Council, which covers Boston and 27 other communities, said the national organization is powerless to stop the award: "Local councils do have the flexibility to establish awards like this to meet the needs of our kids, that's where our focus is. Scouting traditionally has been a very diverse activity."



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Close but not quite...take a look at this article from the C&F Report out of Washington DC.



A homosexual former Boy Scout leader is claiming discrimination because the Boston-based Massachusetts Minuteman Council rejected his application to be a scoutmaster.


Mark Noel, who had written about his homosexuality in a column for the Detroit Free Press on Sept. 7, 2000, said he thought the council had adopted a new policy regarding homosexuality.


Minuteman Council Executive Brock Bigsby, whose release of a written Policy of Nondiscrimination on July 19 triggered news stories that the Scouts had adopted a dont ask, dont tell rule on homosexuality, said that Noel had violated the policy by discussing his sexual orientation.


Bigsby told CNSNews.com that his decision was consistent with the national Boy Scouts policy, since scout leaders would not be permitted to discuss their sexual orientation.


Noel said that he thought the policy meant only that his sexuality could not be discussed around Boy Scouts, and that the newspaper column shouldnt be a factor. Bigsby, who was interviewed last week by C&F Report, had not returned three subsequent phone calls from C&F Report at press time.


The Boston Globe had quoted Bigsby previously as saying, Gay Scout leaders would be permitted as long as they did not discuss their sexual orientation in scouting.


Bigsby told C&F Report that the Globe had misquoted him and that the national Scout policy of barring homosexual leaders was still in force. He said, however, that the Scouts did not ask any applicants about sexual orientation.


Minuteman Council simply put a policy in writing that that they feel is in keeping with the national membership requirements of the BSA. They are trying to please both parties in this debate.


Bob White

(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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I guess the people of Boston (or at least some of them) are liberal in this respect. I recall a Fraternity Convention I attended years ago having a delegation from Boston attempting to make our college fraternity a co-ed fraternity (never understood what that was).


I wish that those who post in this forum would provide a profile. Postings of this nature are kinda like guerilla warfare being that their identity has no credential, at least from my standpoint. I am a scouter, afterall, its not like I am going to stalk someone over their remarks!

Stalking (at least as scouting goes) is a long lost art from my childhood...

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BobWhite --


You'll note that I posted this story without initial comment. I agree with your assessment that Boston is just putting into writing a clear policy (something that BSA National has yet to do). I have said here before that BSA National's policy is essentially "don't ask, don't tell", but it is disingenuous to claim that in the absence of a clear statement of position from BSA. In the absence of such clarification, we have uneven enforcement and no real leadership.


Frankly, I agree with a "don't ask, don't tell" policy. I believe that sexuality (of any type) is an inappropriate topic for flaunting in front of Scouts. If BSA National and every council in America were to ratify a clear statement similar to Boston (and about nine other councils so far have officially done so) I would be satisfied that a flawed policy would have been corrected. Some might say that the term "avowed homosexual" goes far enough to imply a "don't ask, don't tell policy". Unfortunately, as we have seen in debate on this board over the past several months, there is a wide spectrum of opinion on what "avowed" really means. I personally would take a pretty liberal interpretation. It is not enough just that other Scouters or even Scouts learn that one of their fellow Scouts or Scouters is gay. It would cross the line, however, if that gay Scout or Scouter continued to make their homosexuality a matter of discussion or advocacy in front of Scouts. Much as it would cross the line if a heterosexual Scout or Scouter continued to discuss their sexuality in front of Scouts.


To put this in a real world example, I would remind the board of one of my previous posts. This is the story of one of my very good friends in Scouting, an Eagle Scout that I grew up with, worked camp staff with, served in local and national OA events with and watched serve admirably as a unit and district commissioner. In his late twenties he met and formed a lifetime commitment with another man. Before this time none of his Scouting friends knew he was gay. When he formed this relationship, he did not do so very publicly (he did start wearing a simple ring and let some of his closest friends -- most of whom were in Scouting -- know that he had found someone to spend his life with. Several months later, word had spread along the gossip grapevine, and he eventually received a letter from the Council office saying that his membership was being revoked. No discussion.


In my opinion, this person did not come close to meeting a standard of "avowed homosexual" worthy of banning from Scouting. He was an exemplary Scout and Scout leader, and at no point advocated or made a point of flaunting his sexuality in front of Scouts (or anyone for that matter). What if the Scouts in a troop he served found out he was gay? Still not nearly enough of a standard.


I believe clarifications like the Boston Council's statement are great, especially when they come along with diversity and sensitivity training. St. Pauls council adopted a similar diversity position after their council executive board went through diversity training (with the idea that you should not have a policy on a subject for which you lack knowledge). The volunteers of the board found the training so enlightening that they extended it and made it available (almost even standard) for all adult leaders in the council.


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The United Way made the signing of a non discrimation pledge contingent of receiving funding. You ahd to sign it or no funding. The church I work for receives UW funding so we signed it. But we also feel that the time is coming when we canot accept UW funding due to the restrictions that are putting on all faith based organizations. What this have to do with Scouts is that we have seen the UW funding for alll scout programs cut to less than 15% of budget. Some of us have revolted against UW by designating our gifts to go directly to the BOy Scouts.

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The policy is indeed a "don't ask, don't tell" policy. That means very little in and of itself. Practice and experience, including the cases mentioned in this thread, and the James Dale case, have indicated what the policy actually does mean. It is that if anyone reveals a gay orientation (without revealing any behavior) to anyone, and a BSA council or national finds out about it, the person is out. No trial, no hearing, no inquiry to find out if the person actually said it, no inquiry into what "gay" means in terms of actual behavior, just a letter of termination. It doesn't have to have been said to anyone in a Scouting context, nobody in the person's unit needs to have heard about it (as in the Dale case, apparently nobody in the unit even noticed the mention of Dale in the newspaper), nobody in the unit needs to care. Council hears about it, that's it.


As for the various activities in favor of "diversity" by the BSA, they need to be taken at face value. If the BSA gives an award to a gay person or promotes tolerance of gays in general, it does not mean that any BSA council is going to permit a gay leader in the BSA. On this score I agree (in part) with BobWhite -- they are trying to please both sides, or in my interpretation, they are trying to confuse the issue as far as funding sources are concerned. However, within the BSA there should be no confusion about the policy -- it has not changed, it is a national policy, councils have no authority to change it within their area, and none of them have. Some may see the BSA's behavior on this subject as inconsistent, however I see it as a clever means of preserving the present policy.

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"I guess the people of Boston (or at least some of them) are liberal in this respect."


One must remember that the Greater Boston area is, indeed, a bastion of liberalism, and more Democrat than Republican in a big way...but we have a Republican Governor...go figure.


If a conservative point of view or policy is to be taken to task, it will happen here...for better or worse.

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