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

Black Tie names ‘Modern Family’ star as 2011 Media Award winner

Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who plays gay father Mitchell Pritchett, got 2nd Emmy nomination this year

FROM STAFF REPORTS
editor@dallasvoice.com

Officials with the Black Tie Dinner this week announced that Emmy Award-nominated actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson will be the recipient of the 2011 Media Award at this year’s 30th annual dinner, set for Nov. 12 at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel.

The Media Award is given to those who have promoted positive, increased awareness of LGBT issues in the media.

The 2010 Media Award was presented to newly out country music star Chely Wright.

Ferguson — who starred on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee in 2005, where he originated the role Leaf Coneybear — stars as in the ABC comedy Modern Family as Mitchell Pritchett, who with his same-sex partner Cameron Tucker traveled to Vietnam to adopt their daughter.

Modern Family weaves together the interconnected stories of Mitch and Cameron’s family, Mitch’s sister, Claire Dunphy and her family, and their father, Jay Pritchett and his new wife and stepson, Gloria Delgado-Pritchett and Manny.

This is the second year in a row that Ferguson has been nominated for an Emmy as best supporting actor in a comedy for his role in Modern Family. He has also been nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series.

Earlier this year, Ferguson, acting on behalf of the Modern Familyd cast, accepted the GLAAD Media Award for outstanding comedy series when his show tied for the award with Glee.

Ferguson’s small-screen credits also include roles in The Class, Do Not Disturb and Ugly Betty. Among his film credits are roles in Untraceable, Griffin and Phoenix and Wonderful World.

Black Tie Co-Chair Nan Arnold, in a prepared statement announcing Ferguson as the Media Award winner, said the dinner is “thrilled” to present him with the award.

“As one of the few openly gay, working actors, he has established a wonderful and positive image on network television. The story of Mitchell and Cameron’s relationship is told with so much heart and love. Their storylines do not revolve around these characters being gay, but are instead about two new parents who are in a loving relationship and are trying to work their way through fatherhood together.”

Black Tie officials announced earlier this year that comedienne and Sordid Lives: The Series star Caroline Rhea will be master of ceremonies for the 2011 dinner, and that Chet Flake and his partner of 45 years, the late Bud Knight, will receive this year’s Kuchling Humanitarian Award.

Table Captain table sales are currently under way online at BlackTie.org/TableCaptains.

—  John Wright

‘Rainbow Riot,’ online magazine for youth with LGBT parents, goes live

LGBT parents may already be familiar with the online literary mag and primary publisher of LGBT family fiction in the U.S., Rainbow Rumpus, aimed at younger children. But the company has now expanded to gain the attention of teens and tweens with the recently launched Rainbow Riot, a new web-based magazine featuring topics on and by youth, including art and video. This is hardly Teen Beat. This is from their release:

Rainbow Riot is published by Rainbow Rumpus, a Minnesota-based nonprofit that has been publishing an award winning online magazine for children and grown-ups for over five years. The Riot site is linked to the Rumpus site so young readers can explore the content of both magazines.

“We launched Rainbow Riot in response to feedback from the hundreds of youth that read the online magazine,” said Laura Matanah, Rainbow Rumpus’s executive director. “Teens wanted their own site so we created a whole magazine just for older youth.”

Response to the site has been tremendous. “Ur issues r the best thing i do online,” wrote a 14-year-old reader. Another shared, “I like being able to see my artwork on the site.”
April’s issue of Rainbow Riot features an interview with Avery Klein Cloud, who was raised by two moms and discusses the process of making a documentary about her life during a period when she was searching for her birth mother and going through a “racial identity crisis.” It also includes an interview with a young adult with a gay father who created a video project to explore what it means to “come out” as the child of one or more LGBT parents.

“We’re excited for the Rainbow Riot site to bring our teen fiction to a wider audience,” said Matanah. “The site as a whole will help us achieve our vision of a world where kids and teens with LGBT parents are safe, welcomed, and powerful.”

Teens and young adults are encouraged to submit photos, artwork, writing, and video to Rainbow Riot. Contributions can be emailed to this here.

—  Rich Lopez

Celebrating ‘Family Time’ with COLAGE

COLAGE, an organization for people with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer parents, has just launched its new website, and its chock-full of information, entertainment and resources.

There’s an interactive timeline on LGBTQ families; there’s a blog; there’s a calendar; there’s a video story-wall and more. But perhaps the element with the most impact is the short film, “Family Time,” produced and directed by Jen Gilomen, and featuring the pioneering young men and women who founded COLAGE (back then it was called Just For Us) 20 years ago and who have helped it grow.

Every parent wants the best for their children. Every parent worries about doing something wrong. But when you are L or G or B or T and you are constantly bombarded by negative messages from mainstream society, no matter how confident and proud you are, you sometimes worry that who you are may be hurting your son or daughter.

So watching this film, seeing these proud, strong young people, was a very affirming for me as a lesbian parent. And I can guarantee that everyone will find at least one moment that makes you want to stand up and cheer. For me, the main highlight came about one-third of the way in — between the 4- and 5-minute marks — when the film is showing footage from a Canadian talk show from the early 1990s. In that clip, the young man and young woman who founded Just For Us/COLAGE have been blindsided by the talk show host who has brought on some right-winger to talk about how horrible it is for LGBTs to be raising children, even though the host had promised that wouldn’t happen. But then the young woman, who had a gay father, refuses to take the right-wing crap laying down, telling everyone in no uncertain terms that it isn’t the gay parent that causes problems, it’s the anti-gay assholes who harass and discriminate and intimidate and bully.

I know that at 15 minutes this is a little longer than the clips we usually post on Instant Tea. But it’s worth it.

—  admin

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

Gay University Park dad rejected by Boy Scouts says he’ll appear on local newscasts tonight

Jon Langbert, the gay father who’s been told he can’t be a leader in his 9-year-old son’s Cub Scout troop in University Park, reports that his story will be on three local TV news broadcasts tonight.

“Watch Fox (KDFW-4) at 9 and ABC (WFAA-8) and CBS (KTVT/KTXA-21) news at 10. I hope the reporters ask the Boy Scouts what they want me to tell Carter when he asks why they’re saying his father is a bad role model and must stop wearing the scout shirt they gave him,” Langbert said.

—  John Wright

Gay dad can’t be Scout leader in University Park

Jon Langbert and his son, Carter (Courtesy of Jon Langbert)

Jon Langbert, a gay father of triplets who lives in University Park, has been told that he can’t serve as a leader in his 9-year-old son’s Cub Scout troop.

For the last two years, Langbert has been in charge of the popcorn sales fundraiser for Pack 70 at University Park Elementary, according to Park Cities People. In 2009, Langbert helped the troop raise $13,000, up from $4,000 the previous year. And in September of this year, Langbert and his son, Carter, were invited to recruit new scouts on the school’s morning televised announcements.

But then someone complained about Langbert’s “homosexuality.” And now he’s been told he can’t wear his Scout leader T-shirt or serve in a leadership position, according to The Dallas Morning News:

“What message does that send to my son? It says I’m a second-class citizen,” Langbert said.

Robert McTaggart, the Cubmaster for Pack 70, said Langbert will be allowed to continue as a popcorn fundraiser. That position is not considered a leadership role and can be held by a volunteer.

The Boys Scouts of America has had a long-standing policy that rejects leaders who are gay or atheist. In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the organization’s rules in a 5-4 decision.

“Our policy is not meant to serve as social commentary outside the Scout program,” said Pat Currie of the Circle 10 Council, the umbrella organization that oversees Pack 70. “We respect people who have a different opinion from us. We just hope those same people will respect our right to have a different opinion.”

Langbert says he plans to stay on with this year’s popcorn fundraising campaign. But he’s also contacted attorneys and plans to challenge the Cub Scouts’ decision in court. He noted that the Highland Park school district, which includes UP elementary, allows the troop to use its property despite the discriminatory policy.

Langbert and his partner were featured on 20/20 several years ago, when they lived in New York. Langbert, described as a wildly successful entrepreneur, is the father of triplets, two girls and a boy, who were conceived with donor and surrogate mothers using vitro fertilization.

UPDATE: A commenter below points us to the website for Scouting for All. Here’s their mission statement: “THE MISSION of Scouting For All, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, is to advocate on behalf of its members and supporters for the restoration of the traditionally unbiased values of Scouting as expressed and embodied in the Scout Oath & the Scout Law, and to influence the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to serve and include as participating members ALL youth and adult leaders, regardless of their spiritual belief, gender, or sexual orientation.”

—  John Wright