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Boy Scouts Force Maryland Group to Remove Gay-Friendly Language from Website
A Maryland-based Cub Scouts Pack says it was forced to remove a non-discrimination statement from its website after the National Capital Area Council (NCAC) of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) threatened to revoke the Pack's charter. The statement -- which barred discrimination based on "race, religion, national origin, ability or sexual orientation" -- was voted on and approved by local parents in August 2012.
On Saturday, however, the Pack posted the following message to its website:
Due to pressure from the National Capital Area Council of BSA, Pack 442 was forced to remove its Non-Discrimination statement in order to keep our Charter (set to expire Jan 31st). This Non-Discrimination statement, previously posted here, welcomed ALL families.
Please feel free to send feedback to NCAC at 301-530-9360.
Pack 442 will continue to provide a wonderful and enriching program for scouts and families in the community.
News broke late on Friday that the Pack was being forced to either remove the statement or lose its charter. Les Baron, CEO and Scout Executive of the National Capital Area Council, confirmed to Mother Jones that the problem with the statement was indeed its mention of 'sexual orientation,' saying "That's a message that's against our policy, and we don't want it continue to be out in our community."
In the face of the threat, Pack 442 polled parents through its website, asking if it should either:
- “Keep our current Non-Discrimination policy on the web site, most likely not be rechartered by BSA, and continue to operate but as an independent scout group that openly welcomes all families.”
- “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.”
Results of that poll remain unknown, though it appears that Pack leaders ultimately chose to pull the non-discrimination statement to save its charter.
Several BSA Councils across the nation have adopted similar non-discrimination policies, including the Boston Minuteman Council, which has prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation since 2001. According to Scouts for Equality, 11 Councils, serving over 260,000 Scouts, have taken a stand against the BSA’s anti-gay policies.
A Maryland mother, whose 13 year-old son has served in the Boy Scouts since age 6, launched a Change.org petition in 2012 calling on the NCAC to also reject the BSA's ban on gay Scouts and Scout leaders.
GLAAD first started calls for the Boy Scouts of America to end its ban on gay scouts and scout leaders in April 2012 after Jennifer Tyrrell, a mom and den leader from Ohio was removed from her 7-year-old’s Cub Scout Pack for being gay. Tyrrell’s Change.org petition has attracted more than 330,000 signatures in support of ending the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay Scouts and leaders.
GLAAD and Scouts for Equality have also called attention to other Americans who are continuing to be harmed by the anti-gay policy, including 18 year-old gay Scout Ryan Andresen, who was denied his Eagle award in October 2012 because he is gay. Ryan’s mom later launched a Change.org petition calling on the BSA to give Ryan the award he has earned. That petition now boasts over 460,000 signatures.