Andy Towle reminds us of the homophobia still prevalent among the Boy Scouts of America, pointing to this report about how the organization removed a lesbian mother, Denise Steele, as a scout master of her son’s troop after becoming aware of her sexual orientation:
The issue of Steele being a lesbian didn’t arise until one weekend in June during a camping trip to Assateague Island. The camping trip was from a Saturday to a Monday, and Steele needed to work Monday so she asked Funk to pick her up from the campsite.
After both departed, one of the other assistant scout masters, Skip Inabinett, started questioning who the woman was who had picked up Steele.
After discovering that Steele’s partner had picked her up, Inabinett felt that she should be removed as an assistant scout master. In an email that Inabinett sent to a close personal friend of Steele’s and whose son was also in the troop, he stated, “If what you said about Denise Steele being an active sexual is true, do you feel comfortable talking with her about stepping down/resigning as an ASM … as her friend, this may be an opportunity for you to share with her about Christ’s love and the need to believe that as sinners we cannot get to heaven on our own and that we need a savior.”
More communication between both Steele and Inabinett went on for the next couple of weeks. The conversations centered around how Inabinett thought Steele’s lifestyle choice was a sin.
The Boy Scouts prohibit atheists, agnostics, and “avowed” homosexual people from leadership roles, and its right to discriminate has been repeatedly upheld by state and federal courts. In 2004, the organization adopted the following policy statement: “Boy Scouts of America believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed. The conduct of youth members must be in compliance with the Scout Oath and Law, and membership in Boy Scouts of America is contingent upon the willingness to accept Scouting’s values and beliefs. Most boys join Scouting when they are 10 or 11 years old. As they continue in the program, all Scouts are expected to take leadership positions. In the unlikely event that an older boy were to hold himself out as homosexual, he would not be able to continue in a youth leadership position.”