Boy Scouts seek input on gay ban

Those who want the Boy Scouts to end — or at least soften — their ban on gays can now call or email the organization to voice their opinion.

Calls are being answered at the National Service Desk at 972-580-2330. A representative will answer and ask if you are for or against the policy change.

Emails are also being accepted at nationalsupportcenter@scouting.org.

The national executive board is slated to consider the policy change next Wednesday to allow local troops to decide whether or not to welcome gay members and leaders.

—  Dallasvoice

Boys Scouts to discuss ending gay ban

8.Scouts

Ousted lesbian den leader Jennifer Tyrrell delivers petitions calling for an end to the Boy Scouts’ gay ban at the group’s headquarters in Irving in July. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

The Boy Scouts of America may end its anti-gay ban as early as next week.

The Board of Directors will discuss removing the anti-gay language from the national organization’s rules at its meeting next week, allowing local chapters to decide whether to allow gay members or Scout leaders.

In recent months, UPS, Intel and Merck have pulled their funding of the organization because of the discrimination.

A BSA official told NBC News that more companies had threatened to pull funding if the ban was not lifted.

BSA spokesman Deron Smith released a statement about the policy change.

“Currently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation,” the statement reads in part. “This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs. BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families.”

In July, ousted Cub Scout mom Jennifer Tyrrell brought her Change.org petition to the Irving headquarters. Days before BSA officials said a two-year examination of the anti-gay policy found that the ban was in the best interest of the organization.

Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation released a statement praising the discussion and calling for a change in policy.

“The Boy Scouts of America have heard from scouts, corporations and millions of Americans that discriminating against gay scouts and scout leaders is wrong,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “Scouting is a valuable institution and this change will only strengthen its core principles of fairness and respect.”

Read the full release below.

—  Dallasvoice

Boy Scouts boot lesbian mom, troop leader

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.

—  admin

WATCH: Scoutmasters can’t be gay, but lawsuit claims they ARE permitted to show porn to kids

Maybe the Boy Scouts of America should spend less time worrying about gays, and more time worrying about child molesters. Just a thought.

A lawsuit filed in San Antonio claims the Boy Scouts should have done more to protect a teenage victim from the man who was later convicted of molesting him and is now serving 60 years in prison.

“There were violations after violation of basic safety rules with children,” attorney Pat Maloney said. “You don’t allow a scoutmaster to be one-on-one with a child. You don’t allow a scoutmaster to go out-of-state with a child, and you certainly don’t allow a scoutmaster to show pornography to a child, all of which was going on while he was a scoutmaster here.”

—  John Wright

Scouts decommission the ‘popcorn colonel’

Gay dad fights back after Boy Scouts tell him he’s not ‘morally straight’ enough to be a leader

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor nash@dallasvoice.com

PROUD PAPA  |  Jon Langbert and his son, Carter, smile for the camera during a Cub Scout ceremony when Carter was in second grade. Langbert said he will let Carter decide whether they will continue participating in the Scouts after District 10 leaders said Langbert can’t be a leader in the troop because he is gay.
PROUD PAPA | Jon Langbert and his son, Carter, smile for the camera during a Cub Scout ceremony when Carter was in second grade. Langbert said he will let Carter decide whether they will continue participating in the Scouts after District 10 leaders said Langbert can’t be a leader in the troop because he is gay.

Jon Langbert knows that, thanks to a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court back in June of 2000, the Boy Scouts of America have the right to discriminate against gays.

The real question, though, is should the Scouts discriminate, even though they have the right, Langbert said this week.

Langbert is the gay father of 9-year-old triplets, two girls and one boy. And when his children were in second grade, his son Carter brought home a flyer for the Cub Scout troop at their University Park elementary school.

“Carter asked me about it. He said he wanted to be in Cub Scouts,” Langbert said. “I was concerned about it, because I know the Scouts aren’t pro-gay, to say the least. But I took him to the meeting, and that first night I went up to the Scout leader and told him, ‘Hey, I am a gay dad, My son is in second grade, and he wants to join Cub Scouts. Will that be a problem.?’”

The man who was troop leader at the time, Langbert recalled, “told me, ‘Absolutely not. Sign him up.’ So I did. And we really had a good time. We went to all the den meetings and camp outs and pack meetings. We were a very active family in the Scouts.”

The next year, when Carter was in third grade, the pack leaders approached Langbert and asked him to be the “popcorn colonel,” the volunteer in charge of the pack’s annual popcorn sale to raise the funds to pay for the scouts’ activities. When he agreed, the pack gave him a scout leader shirt — tan, with all the usual patches — to denote his position as popcorn colonel for the pack.

So Langbert — an entrepreneur who recently sold the finance company he had founded — put all his business skills to use. That year, the pack’s popcorn sale brought in $13,000 — more than triple the previous year’s total of about $4,000.

Robert McTaggert, the troop’s new leader, knew a good when he saw it, and when Carter entered fourth grade and started a new year with the Cub Scouts, he asked Langbert to once again lead the annual fundraising effort. And Langbert readily agreed.

“He told me we had done such a great job with the fundraiser the year before, that if I would do it again, Carter wouldn’t even have to pay any dues this year,” Langbert said.

Then on Wednesday, Oct. 13, Langbert got an e-mail from McTaggert, telling him plans had been changed: Carter’s gay dad could no longer be the Cub Scout pack’s popcorn colonel.

McTaggert explained that the father of one of the other scouts in Carter’s pack had gathered up a couple more fathers and the group had complained to McTaggert and another troop leader, saying they didn’t want a gay man associated with the pack, and especially not in any kind of leadership position.

McTaggert, Langbert said, “stood up for me. He asked the guy [who initiated the complaint] if he was willing to head up the popcorn sale. The guy wouldn’t do it, of course, and [McTaggert] told him that I was still heading up the sale and to get over it.”

But the angry father wasn’t done; he took his complaint over McTaggert’s head to Roger Derrick, head of the Scouts’ local District 10 council. And Derrick sided with the unhappy father.

“He [Derrick] called Robert [McTaggert] and said I had to go, and that I couldn’t wear the popcorn colonel shirt anymore,” Langbert said. “I was very, very unhappy with that. Being told you are a second-class citizen, that you are not morally straight and not a good role model, that’s something nobody wants to hear. I may not be straight but I am morally straight, no matter what they say.”

Langbert’s neighbor, Merritt Patterson, found out about the situation and wrote about it in her column in the Park Cities People newspaper.

“It was very brave of her to do that, to risk making some people upset. I mean, this sure isn’t an issue without some heat surrounding it,” Langbert said, adding that Patterson’s column “got the ball rolling.” Before he knew it, he was getting requests for interviews for media from around Dallas — and even beyond.

By Friday, Oct. 16, Scout officials were backtracking, at least a little.

“They came back on Friday and said I could keep selling popcorn, and I could be a volunteer, ‘Just don’t stand up in front of the boys and represent yourself as a leader, as a role model.’ And it made me mad again,” Langbert said. “They are still sending the same message of exclusion. They are still robbing Carter and me of the full experience of Scouting and they are sending a message to other dads and sons that there is something wrong with me.

“Scouting is an institution, and that message they are sending will mean something to people who don’t know better,” Langbert continued. “The Scouts have a lot of wonderful things about them. But this policy is out of touch and it sends the wrong message, to my son and to a lot of other boys. It’s 2010 already. We have a black president. A lesbian is the mayor of Houston. Even the policy against gays in the military is ending. So why can’t gay people be leaders in Scouting.

“The policy has to end, and if it doesn’t they need to take Scouting to the churches and get it out of my tax-dollar-supported schools!”

Langbert said despite the insult, he will finish the popcorn sale this year because “I gave my word, and I am a man of my word.” But as to whether he and Carter will continue in Scouting beyond that — “Well, I am going to let Carter make that decision.”

“I guess maybe it seems like I am wimping out, to leave it up to Carter to decide. But he has known me as his gay father for nine years. He is comfortable with me. Still, those boys in the Scouts are his friends, his classmates,” Langbert said. “Scouting has some positive aspects and he will get value from the activities. And if I have to suck it up and go without wearing the shirt or being a ‘leader,’ then I will do that for my son.”

That doesn’t mean Langbert is letting the matter drop, though: “I will make sure they know that I am here, and that I am not going anywhere as long as Carter wants to be in the Scouts,” he declared. “I am talking out about this, and I will continue to talk out. I am not a trained speaker, but I believe strongly enough in this issue to take the chance.

“Maybe it will be enough to get the Boy Scouts to actually join us in the year 2010,” he said. “Change has got to start somewhere.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 22, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

WATCH: Gay popcorn colonel Jon Langbert of University Park takes on the Boy Scouts

Jon Langbert, the gay University Park father who’s been told he can’t serve in a leadership role in his 9-year-old’s Cub Scout troop, appeared on three local newscasts Monday night (you can watch CBS’ coverage here). Langbert’s message is that it’s 2010, and while a 2000 Supreme Court ruling gave the Scouts the right to discriminate against gays, that doesn’t mean they have to. “They’re out of touch,” Langbert says, adding that he plans to finish out the year as popcorn colonel for his son’s troop. After that, he says he’ll leave it up to his son whether they continue in the Scouts.

WFAA has a poll up on their site asking whether the Boy Scouts should change their policy of excluding gays and atheists from leadership roles. As of this post, 62 percent said the Boy Scouts SHOULD NOT change the policy.

—  John Wright