We already know that the Boy Scouts of America can and will kick out gay Scouts and Scout leaders. Lawsuits against the Scouts date back to 1981 when 18-year-old gay former Scout Tim Curran sued for the right to be a Scoutmaster. And in each case, courts — including the U.S. Supreme Court — have ruled that the Scouts have the right to exclude gays.
That discriminatory policy was in the spotlight here locally again when gay father Jon Langbert was “decommissioned” from his role as the “Popcorn Colonel” — leader of the annual effort to raise money by selling popcorn — for his son’s Cub Scout troup.
Now there’s this story to prove that the Boy Scouts’ homophobia isn’t gender specific.
After six years playing an active role in her son’s Boy Scout troup in Potomac Falls, Va., Denise Steele has been kicked out after another Scout’s mother discovered Steele is a lesbian.
Steele started out as a den leader for her son’s Cub Scout troop in elementary school when no one else would do it. Over the next six years, according to the Loudon Times, Steele’s son’s troop excelled at everything, winning the Blue and Gold Award — one of Scouting’s highest awards — for five years running. And when her son moved on up to the Boy Scouts, Steele moved with him.
All was fine until June this year when Steele accompanied her son and his troop on a Saturday-through-Monday camping trip. Because Steele had to work on Monday, her partner, Jackie Funk, showed up on Sunday night to pick her up. Assistant Scout Master Skip Inabinett then asked who the woman was that picked Steele up, and when she found out that Steele is a lesbian, and the woman giving her a ride was her partner, everything changed.
Inabinett started with a letter to a friend of Steele’s whose son was also in the troop: “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.”
Inabinett then proceeded to communicate with Steele herself over the next two weeks, focusing his efforts on telling her that her “lifestyle” is a sin and, according to Funk, bullying Steele to the point of tears.
According to Steele and Funk, Inabinett didn’t think he’d get the result he wanted — having Steele removed from her position with the troop — by going through the troop’s scoutmaster , the committee or the charter organization. So he went straight to the Boy Scouts of America. And he got what he wanted. Steele is now persona non grata with her son’s troop, despite her dedication and her stellar record as a leader.
Well, all we can say is, Skip Inabinett is a jerk, Boy Scouts of America is a bigoted organization, and the real losers in all of this are the boys in the Scout troop Steele has served with such commitment for so long.
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