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DISCLAMER: The following is my personal opinion but is supported by documentation.
On February 17, 1998, I received a call from a Mr. Jeff Morris of the Westmoreland Fayette Council, Inc. of the Boy Scouts of America [BSA]. Mr. Morris informed me that he was sending me a letter revoking my membership in the BSA. Although I knew the answer, I asked him why. He informed me that a "concerned" someone had notified the BSA of my home page address and it had been checked out by a BSA official. My membership was being revoked because my "orientation was not in line with official BSA policy".
After some angry words on my part, I abruptly ended the conversation (read slammed the phone down). I then sat down to compose a letter to the parents of the seven boys who had been in the den which I had, until that day, been leader of for the last two years. In that letter, I explained why I had to suddenly withdraw as den leader and told them that how they explained my departure to their sons was up to them, but that I wasn't going to hide in shame or slink away with my tail between my legs.
Later that evening, I attended our regularly scheduled pack committee meeting where I informed the members of the committee what had happened. Everyone of them was upset at the injustice that had taken place. But even though they supported me, there were still some comments made that, in effect, blamed me for the problem. Several members asked why I would put something so personal on the internet. I did in fact know that being bisexual was against BSA policy. As I explain it on the page in question— whether people like to think about it or approve of it, there are others out there struggling with the same issues I did before accepting my bisexuality. If what I went through will help others (and it has— I've received many emails thanking me for my honesty and my courage in posting that page because it helped someone else understand themselves or someone they loved a bit better) it was worth the risk of getting booted out of the BSA.
In truth, I never thought it would happen, but I'm getting away from my point. A follow up comment to the "Why did you put it on the net?" query was, "Well, if only you hadn't, we wouldn't be in this mess right now." (In addition to being den leader, I was also the pack secretary and treasurer, so three people needed to be found to take over my roles— or so we thought.) I didn't argue with that comment, but the next morning, I realized just how off the mark it was. The real cause of all the problems is the attempt by one group to force everyone who is a member of that group to adhere to a certain set of guidelines not only while they are participating in the group, but in their private lives as well. Unfortunately, to date, this policy has been upheld by the courts because the BSA is a private organization. I am appealing the revokation of my membership through proper channels, but I have contacted the ACLU regarding the matter and it is up for discussion at their next meeting. I will take it to court if the ruling isn't overturned during my appeals process within the BSA. I don't anticipate that happening because according to Mr. Morris, the national office is aware of the situation and approved of it.
Such institutional discrimination is rampant in the BSA. Their ability to monitor the private lives of their members smacks of "Big Brother" mentality. According to the letter, the BSA reserves "the right to refuse registration whenever there is concern that an individual may not meet the high standards of membership that the BSA seeks." When I asked Mr. Morris just what standards I failed to meet, he said that the BSA stood for "traditional family values." Since when are intolerance, prejudice, discrimination and bigotry considered traditional family values?
Within the last few years, there was a case where the BSA refused membership to a Muslim child because the child prayed to Allah and not to the Judeo-Christian God. The God I am teaching my children about is not the Judeo-Christian God either. (Actually, according to my beliefs, there is only one God who is called by many different names. But Judeo-Christians would say the two were different.) I am teaching my children responsibility— that for every action, thought and word that is harmful to another, there will be consequences to them. I am teaching them to admit their mistakes, apologize if someone was hurt, learn from those mistakes and attempt not to make them again. I am teaching them the value of honesty and integrity and of civic duty. I am teaching them to respect others and allow them to believe, dress, love, pray, speak, look, etc. differently and that such differences do NOT make them any less loved by God or any less worthy as human beings. I am teaching them that they should treat other people as they want to be treated. These things, as far as I'm concerned, are (or should be) traditional family values. "Traditional" families are a thing of the past— many of the parents in the pack are remarried, living with their opposite gender partner or divorced single parents. Are these people in violation of the BSA's policies on "traditional family values" too? What the BSA supports is NOT traditional family values but traditional families.
The prospect of taking this to court is somewhat daunting to me because there are members of my family who are not aware of my orientation. But there comes a time when one must stand up for what one believes in or lose one's soul by walking away. I have reached that point. To NOT fight this injustice is to endorse it. To remain silent as to why my membership was revoked it to allow it to continue. No injustice is righted without someone being the first to fight it. While I am not the first, most injustice is not easily righted and the fight must continue. I intend to continue the fight until no one else has to worry about whether or not their private life will result in their being unable to volunteer their time to help their children in a scouting program.
It is very interesting to note the nowhere on the BSA's official homepage is this discriminatory practice advertised. And it is even more interesting to note that there is no way to contact the BSA from their offical website. No guestbook, no email address provided. Could it be that the BSA is aware that if such information is made public they will be inundated with letters of protest regarding their blatant discriminatory practices?? One can only wonder.
If you are outraged or even mildly disturbed by what has happened to me (as well as many others), you may call the Westmoreland Fayette Council and tell them about it. The phone number is 742-837-1630. Or you can fax them at 742-832-8780. You may address the issue in general to the BSA regional office by writing them at Northeast Region, BSA, PO Box 268, Jamesburg, NJ, 08831-0268. You can also send a letter to the editor of your local paper protesting this injustice. Anything to make the public aware of what is going on and the undue influence the BSA has over the private lives of the people who VOLUNTEER their time to help the organization.
Thanks for taking time to read this and, if you send a letter or call, thank you again.
With Love and Light,
Questions or comments?? Please email me.
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