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George Thompson, Asst. Scoutmaster, Troop 66, River Forest Illinois Speaks Out

I gave a brief statement at a meeting at Cornerstone Church in Oak Park regarding my disagreement with the BSA policy concerning exclusion of homosexual adult leaders. Prior to giving the statement I commented that I was disappointed that the Des Plaines Valley Council did not have representation at the meeting, as they were invited. I forwarded my comments to the council.

I also forwarded written copies of my statement to the members of the Board of Directors of the Des Plaines Valley Conference. Also at the meeting were the current bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church, the President of the Village of Oak Park, and a president of District 97 Parent / Teacher Organization Council. The leaders of the meeting were Rev. Wendy Witt, pastor of Cornerstone Church, and Jim Bicak, Cubmaster of Pack 14. All participants expressed positions similar to my own, except a few suggested that the community should turn away from Scouting and embrace other youth oriented organizations. I mentioned it was my goal to work within Scouting to effect change. Here is a copy of my statement:

My name is George Thompson and I'm an assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 66 in River Forest, Illinois. I am speaking on this issue representing myself and not for my troop leadership, troop sponsor, or troop council. I believe it is morally wrong for the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to have a policy, which suggests that someone's admitted sexual orientation is to be used as some type of moral standard for their ability to be adult BSA leaders.

Sexual orientation and appropriate moral behavior within a single orientation means different things to different people and has nothing to do with the BSA program goals and activities. The BSA organization's assertion that as a policy it is committed to only one type of sexual orientation as appropriate human moral behavior is unethical, because it violates a long tradition of the
organization promoting common and general, not specific, moral standards. The BSA, up to this time, has always been a secular, civic youth character-building organization, which promotes religious values and conduct -- without imposing any one particular religious belief on its members or leadership.

Part of character-building for our youth has always included a courageous respect for divergent views, diversity in our membership and leadership; yet respecting every participant's personal rights and moral beliefs with dignity. Simply put -- we should judge individuals on their behavior and strength of character -- not on opposing political, social, or moral views. In the event of differences in moral views, we should find common ground, and exclude criteria that do not pertain and should never be
allowed to be part of Boy Scout activities, such as adult sexual activity.

It would be uncourageous, disloyal, and irreverent for me not to speak up and oppose the current BSA policy, which has tarnished our organization and lowered our traditional values. As a brotherhood member of the Order of the Arrow, I am anxious to discuss and explore ways to change the organization's policy from within the organization to one, which respects all of humanity without sacrificing our common moral views or our current Scouting life style.

Recent e-mail to the Council -

To: Erene Szinavel

Executive Director and Board Secretary,

Attached is a letter I've submitted as a letter to the editor of two local newspapers in Oak Park regarding the Boy
Scout policy on Homosexual Leadership. I'd also appreciate if you would publish it as part of you newsletters to adult scouters
as well as to communicate it to the Board of Directors of the Des Plaines Valley Council.

Also please forward this note and attachment to the national headquarters.

I urge both yourself at the Council Level and the National administration of the Boy Scouts to formally attempt to open up a discussion of this issue among adult Scout Leaders. I've talked to so many who agree with my position, but none of us feel we have way to provide an input to the policy. I'd like a national mechanism be developed so that any policies that generate such a
national scandal can be fully debated and voted on by the full Scouting Adult membership or some representative forum.

Although this may be hard for others in Scouting to understand I believe our war on Terrorism is really a war on religious intolerance as well. It we need to ferret out this "Terrorism" not only from external sources but within our own societies including policies in the Boy Scouts that breed intolerance and hate toward adults and youngsters.

George I. Thompson

Recent letter to Newspapers -

Lets End The Terrorism of Religious Intolerance in Boy Scouts

In the 09/18/01 issue of the Oak Park, Illinois Wednesday Journal newspaper, Mark Campbell and Cathy Rothenbaum wrote separate articles criticizing the Oak Park community for not supporting individual leaders in the Boy Scouts, because of the Boy Scout policy banning adult homosexuals in leadership positions. They also are against the Boy Scout policy, but can't understand the self-righteous moral indignation of their neighbors. I am also involved in Scouting as an Assistant Scoutmaster. But, I oppose both of their points of view towards the community. Not because they are wrong about self-righteous moral indignation as a sin. But the Boy Scout policy is a much worse manifestation of that sin than the expressed opinions or actions of
their neighbors and myself. Cathy Rothenbaum is simply wrong when she states the Supreme Court's decision supports the Boy Scout policy. Rather it was neutral on the policy itself, but supported the organization's right to have a policy. Quoting the summary decision: 'In so ruling, the Court is not guided by its view of whether the Boy Scouts' teachings with respect to homosexual conduct are right or wrong; public or judicial disapproval of an organization's expression does not justify the State' s effort to compel the organization to accept members in derogation of the organization' s expressive message.' The ruling dodged the homosexual issue entirely and simply stated the organization has the right to set its own policy, which is a separate technical legal issue based on the 1st amendment, not discrimination.

So guided by our Supreme Court, it is incumbent on us to urge our leaders in the Boy Scouts to change this policy. Mark Campbell and Cathy Rothenbaum, you should stop writing letters to the community condemning us or suggesting we need to change the country's laws. We don't need to change laws or the constitution. Instead, expend your energy to promote a real, open discussion of the issue and a fair vote on the policy within Scouting. The recent New York tragedy of 9/11/01 demonstrates how extreme this evil of religious self-righteous moral indignation can become. This intolerance has the same
evil manifestation as the Boy Scout policy towards homosexuality. The Boy Scout policy has resulted in violence also. There is at least one documented instance of a homosexual Boy Scout committing suicide as a result of this policy!

Please also reference this web link

The Boy Scout leaders in Irving, Texas, believe they can define to the nation what is the correct religious standards, and thrust their own religious and political beliefs on all of us interpreting 'morally straight' (ironically, long before the gay rights movement, 'straight' has historically stood for being honest with absolutely no reference to sexual orientation and it is simply dishonest for our Scout Leadership to suggest otherwise!!). The reason the policy had never been publicized is because it never really existed. The Boy Scout organization should remove this immoral, unchristian policy about homosexual leadership standards. That would show real Scout's Honor.

Best Regards,
George Thompson Asst. Scoutmaster,
Troop 66
River Forest

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