Spirit Day, The Boy Scouts, And A News Cycle Linkage

Posted on 22 Oct 2010 at 4:44pm

It’s probably just a coincidence of what was in the October 20th news cycle, but there was a stark contrast between the story of Spirit Day and a Boy Scouts story. From CNN‘s Boy Scouts tell gay leader to take a hike:

The father of a 9-year-old Cub Scout said Tuesday he has been forced out of a leadership role with the organization and ordered not to wear its uniform because of his sexual orientation.

Jon Langbert of Dallas, Texas, who is openly gay, told HLN’s “Prime News” that he had been wearing the shirt the Scouts gave him last year with pride. The shirt identified him as a member of the leadership team that was selling popcorn for a Scout fundraiser.

But that all changed last week. “Everything was running along smoothly until some of the dads complained,” he said. When the complaints rose to a higher level of the Scout leadership, he was asked to stop wearing the shirt and give up his leadership role, he said.

“It made me feel terrible to think about the devastating effect it would have on my son to see his father stripped of his leadership role,” Langbert said. “It brought tears to my eyes.”

Apparently, Jon Langbert was never officially registered as a Boy Scout leader. From the WFAA-TV piece Scouts to gay dad: ‘Don’t wear that uniform’

Circle Ten council officials said they did not remove Langbert as a leader because he was never registered as a leader in the first place.

All registered Scout leaders must pass criminal background checks. Langbert said he welcomes the process, but the Boy Scouts of America is not welcoming him.

“We do have a policy that avowed gays and atheists are not allowed to be a registered leader or member of Boy Scouts of America,” said Pat Currie, Scout Executive with the Circle Ten Council “It’s a longstanding policy.”

As WFAA-TV reminded us in their piece:

Ten years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Boy Scout guidelines rejecting leaders who are gay or atheist. The court said as a private organization, the Boy Scouts can set their own membership standards.

And they do. The arguments aren’t whether or not the Boy Scouts can discriminate against atheist, non-theist, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender children and adults, it’s whether their discriminatory policies are right.

But that this story broke on CNN on Spirit Day, a day set aside to honor the teenagers who had taken their own lives in recent weeks, and to show the hundreds of thousands of LGBT youth who face the same pressures and bullying, that there is a vast community of people who support them.

One question I’d like to ask the Boy Scouts is did any national or Texas-based Boy Scout leadership wear purple on this past Tuesday for Spirit Day? A second question I’d ask them is similar to one father Jon Langbert’s asked regarding messaging. My question would be “What is the message that the Boy Scouts are sending to bullied lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth, and are the scouts proud or embarrassed about your messaging to LGBTQ youth?”

It’s an odd linkage in the news cycle though — to see Spirit Day and the Boy Scouts non-diversity policy on atheist, non-theist, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender in the same cycle.

I may be wrong, but I don’t believe anyone at CNN made an on-air linkage between these two stories.
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