BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) reports that the National Capital Area Council(NCAC) of the Boy Scouts is threatening a Maryland cub scout pack with removal for posting a statement that says it won't discriminate against gay members.
The statement in question reads: "Pack 442 WILL NOT discriminate against any individual or family based on race, religion, national origin, ability, or sexual orientation."
According to Mother Jones magazine, Pack 442's committee chair Theresa Phillips said after the pack voted to approve the anti-discrimination statement, the NCAC said “they would ‘allow’ us to leave it up based on our right to freedom of speech. Now they are doing a 180 and basically asking us to either conform to BSA's discriminatory policy or get out.”
Mother Jones quotes GLAAD president Herndon Graddick as saying that the Boy Scouts' threat to kick out the Maryland cub scout pack is "unconscionable."
"How many young Scouts is the BSA willing to sacrifice in order to preserve its harmful and discriminatory policies? This despicable act of bullying and intimidation is yet another reminder that the BSA is out of touch with its members and the American public at large," Graddick says in the report.
Mother Jones says NCAC CEO and Scout Executive Les Baron of NCAC confirmed that if the pack doesn't erase the declaration, "they will not be recognized as an organization, although that's our last resort." Baron reportedly told the magazine the reference to sexual orientation is the main problem. "That's a message that's against our policy, and we don't want it continue to be out in our community."
Last July, at the same time that the BSA reaffirmed its policy of excluding gays, despite ongoing criticism and protests, 19-year-old Eagle Scout and summer camp counsellor Eric Jones was shown the door after revealing he is gay to his camp director. The camp director told Jones, who had been a member for almost 10 years, that while he deserved to be there, BSA policy was BSA policy: no openly gay people allowed.
That same month, Martin Cizmar returned his Eagle Scout badge in protest against the BSA's reaffirmation of that policy.
"A national policy on sexuality forces good, principled people from scouting. I can only hope that someone inside the BSA has the courage to fix this policy before the organization withers into irrelevance," Cizmar wrote in a July 19 letter to the BSA.
GLAAD first called on the BSA to end its anti-gay policy in April after Jennifer Tyrrell, a mother and den leader from Ohio, was removed from her seven-year-old’s Cub Scout Pack because she's gay. Tyrell subsequently started a change.org petition that has garnered more than 330,000 signatures in support of ending the BSA's ban on gays.
The CEOs of AT&T and Ernst & Young have also called for an end to the Boy Scouts’ anti-gay policies. AT&T’s Randall Stephenson and Ernst & Young’s James Turley both sit on the national board of the Boy Scouts of America.
Over the past several months, a number of corporate entities, including Intel, UPS, and United Way have decided to pull their support for the Boy Scouts because of their discriminatory policy. More recently, the Merck Foundation issued a statement indicating that it too will stop funding the Boy Scouts.
"The BSA’s policy of exclusion directly conflicts with the Merck Foundation’s giving guidelines," Merck says on its website. "On that basis the Merck Foundation has decided to suspend funding to the BSA. The decision to suspend support applies to direct funding from the Merck Foundation, the matching of gifts from Merck employees, and paid time off for volunteering.