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Boston Minuteman Council, 199 State St., Third Floor., Boston, MA 02109


Statement from S4A

Mr. Bigsby, representing the Minuteman Council tried to mislead the general public and funders last year by saying his council would not discriminate. When asked at that time if his council would adhere to the BSA national policy of exclusion of gays he replied by saying his council is in line with the national policy. I'm afraid, Mr. Bigsby again is misleading funders with his "don't ask don't tell" policy, in the council's attempt to secure funding. A "don't ask don't tell" policy is not acceptable. We must ask ourselves what kind of message does a "don't ask don't tell" policy give our gay youth. If an adult scout leader brought his or her life partner to a scout unit event and held hands, would the council kick them out? It would only take one person to report a gay leader or youth to National BSA for the national organization to take action. Would the Minuteman Council defy BSA national in the event this happened? I think not. The only Scout Council in the United States who has absolutely told the BSA National that it would not follow its bigoted policy is the Piedmont Scout Council of Piedmont, California. I'm afraid this is another ploy by the BSA national to mislead funders and secure funding.

Scott Cozza, Pres.
Scouting for All

Summarized Article
8/01

Boy Scouts: Leaders can be 'privately' gay  Boston council adopts a nondiscrimination policy even though the national organization supports exclusion.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

BOSTON - Massachusetts' largest Boy Scout council has adopted a nondiscrimination policy on sexual orientation, despite the national organization's ban on homosexuals. Under the new policy, adopted July 19, the Boston Minuteman Council will serve its more than 18,000 members "without regard to color, race, religion, ethnic background, sexual orientation or economic status." "We do not inquire into people's sexual orientation and never have," said Brock Bigsby, Scout executive for the council, which covers Boston and 27 other towns. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2000 that the Boy Scouts of America may exclude gays from serving as troop leaders. The case resulted from the dismissal of a New Jersey troop leader who was also involved in a college gay and lesbian group. The Boy Scouts asserted that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with its values. Bigsby said the policy is not new, but is only meant to clear up misconceptions which have resulted from the Supreme Court
case. Observers from both sides of the ideological divide disagreed. "It certainly would go further than the national Boy Scout's policy, which is a policy of discrimination," said Eric Ferrero, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union's lesbian and gay rights project. Robert Knight, director of the Culture and Family Institute, an affiliate of the Concerned Women for America, a conservative public policy group, disagreed. "If this council equates homosexuality with ethnicity and skin color then they are at odds with national policy and they would seem more interested in being politically correct than in protecting boys from immoral and dangerous behavior" Knight said. The policy would essentially keep Scout leaders' sex lives private.

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8/01

A Letter to the Minuteman Council from Eagle Scout Bert Leatherman

Dear sirs,

I read with great enthusiasm a headline on the New York Times website: "Boston Boy Scouts Allow Gay Leaders."  As a 23-year-old gay Eagle Scout and Order of the Arrow Brotherhood member, I have closely followed, with a heavy heart, the unfortunate battle against gay men youth and adults in Boy Scouting.  My disenchantment with an organization I once loved -- and felt loved by -- has thankfully been balanced by the encouraging steps you and other progressive, urban councils have taken to request reconsideration of the national policy.  I write with gratitude, knowing that I am addressing people who are doing their best to promote respect instead of prejudice within the confines of mandates from less open-minded officials at higher levels.

Nevertheless, I cannot feel that today's announcement is anything more than a hollow victory for fairness and dignity.  Requiring that adult leaders -- and by extension, I assume, youth members as well -- "not expose their sexual orientation one way or the other" is nearly an impossible mandate.  There are many gay men and women who might make fine volunteer leaders but who have already come out in their communities.  Their sexual orientation will be impossible to hide if they have, for instance, an active family life with their partner or if they are well-known community leaders, as is often the case with Scout volunteers.  Moreover, Scouting trains young men to be civically engaged throughout lives.  If such men are gay, often their civic involvement translates into working for equal rights.  Such work, worthy of the Scout veteran who does his duty to his country and tries to help other people at all times, is sometimes high-profile and makes concealing one's sexual identity illogical.

Much more importantly, I can say from poignant personal experience that coming to terms with one's sexual orientation as a young gay man can be a monumental challenge.  Many 16-year-old boys who find themselves attracted to other boys would benefit enormously from being able to confide in a respected adult.  Often, this person might be a Scout leader, especially if one's home environment is inhospitable to such topics.  Making membership in Scouting dependent on not revealing one's sexual orientation can retard the psychological and emotional growth and fitness that is crucial to boys of Scouting age who are gay or bisexual.  Often, boys set the goal of attaining the Eagle rank and make great sacrifice to get there.  Such sacrifice should not involve forsaking the chance to face, rather than suppress, weighty personal challenges during one's coming of age.

I write these thoughts not as criticism, for I know you are making efforts to transform Scouting into an organization that values inclusion and respect.  I thank you again for your efforts in the face of extraordinary and complicated resistance.  I want to challenge you, though, to go far beyond today's announcement that membership will be permissible as long as one does not reveal his sexual orientation.  Such news, actually, is hardly newsworthy: James Dale was thrown out of Scouting, after all, because his sexual identity was revealed.  Much more powerful, courageous, and admirable would be a public stand to treat sexual orientation as a complete non-issue.  If this is indeed the ultimate goal I surmise you share with other urban, forward-thinking councils, perhaps you would consider acting in tandem with them to make such a brave and honorable announcement.  There is, after all, strength in numbers.  If Boy Scout councils in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco, for instance, simultaneously announced a complete disregard for sexual orientation -- hidden or revealed -- in granting membership, the choice facing the national office would be serious and significant.  Punishing these councils by voiding their legitimacy would mean the disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of youth.  National Scout
policy-makers would have to think seriously in responding to such a consequential challenge.

I leave you with a quote from the last sermon of Martin Luther King, Jr., on maintaining unity and conviction:

"We aren't engaged in any negative protests and any negative arguments with anybody.  We are saying that we are determined to be men.  We are determined to be people....  Now what does this mean in this great period of history?  It means we've got to stay together.  We've got to stay together and maintain unity....  Whenever the slaves get together, something happens in Pharaoh's court, and he cannot hold the slaves in slavery.  When the slaves get together, that's the beginning of getting out of slavery.  Now let us maintain unity....  The greatness of America is the right to protest for right....  Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point.  We've got to see it through....  Let us stand with a greater determination.  Let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge, to make America what it ought to be.  We have an opportunity to make American a better nation."

Again, thank you for your progressive and inclusive inclinations.  I hope you will take your convictions one step further to embody the best in Scouting by taking a significant stand for justice and respect.  To this end, I would be pleased to help you in any way if ever people like myself might ever be of assistance. 

Very sincerely,
Albert R. Leatherman, III
Eagle Scout (Potomac Council)

Update on the Minuteman Council 8/22/01 from a S4A Supporter

Scott,

As an article was just published in "InNewsWeekly" a local New England gay and lesbian newspaper the Boston Minuteman Council forbid a scouter who had been kicked out of another council for being gay from becoming a leader even before he filled out an application.... I had a feeling just because they made it look like they were gonna fight National it would never happen....

Maybe it'll happen somewhere else and a Council will REALLY fight National..

Michael R. Lobo



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