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BSA Discriminates Against Parents

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1992 - Lesbian Mother Expelled

2009 - Lesbian Mother Expelled

2012 - Lesbian Mother Expelled

2012 - Gay Father Expelled

     Even though BSA proclaims that it's programs are designed for families and that it values families, when it comes to some families, BSA's commitment is quickly forgotten. This is especially true when children's parents happen to be gay or lesbian. For example, in the BSA's first grade level program (Tiger Cubs), an adult is required to be registered as the boy's Tiger Cub Partner. In most cases, this is one of the boy's parents/guardians. If for some reason they are not able to make the commitment, then a another member of the family or family friend serves in this capacity. For the millions of children with parents who happen to be gay or lesbian, the BSA prohibits them from fulfilling this role.

     The BSA policy not only bans LGBT parents from fulfilling roles that other parents are required to do, its policy sends a clear message that such families are not wanted or valued by the BSA. Such a message is not only demeaning to families with LGBT parents but sends a clear message to other Scouts that those families are not worthy of common human decency. A direct contradiction of Scouting's principles.

Gay father not allowed to be Scout leader
October 16, 2010
By JON NIELSEN / The Dallas Morning News

A University Park father learned this week that he will not be able to serve as a leader in his 9-year-old's Cub Scout pack because he's gay.

For the last two years Jon Langbert has organized a popcorn fundraiser for Pack 70 at University Park Elementary. Then at a September Scout meeting, someone complained about his homosexuality, Langbert said.

He said he was told this week that he can't wear the Scout leader shirt he was given last year and that he cannot serve in a leadership position because of his sexual orientation.

"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."

The situation in University Park came to light after Park Cities People reported it online Friday.

Currie said Langbert can continue to participate in the pack's activities as a parent.

"We wish him all the best in that endeavor, obviously," he said. "It's our hope and our desire that he stays in the program."

 Langbert has agreed to continue raising money through the popcorn fundraiser, which ends in late November. But he said he's not going to let the Boy Scouts "brush this under the carpet."

He said he is angry the Highland Park school district allows the Boy Scouts to use its facilities in spite of their discrimination. He said he has contacted attorneys.

"My tax dollars are paying for their discrimination. And the next gay dad who wants to come along can't. I'm not going to let them," Langbert said. "My position is that the school cannot allow the use of their facilities to an organization that discriminates."

     In 1992, a father and his male partner, were both ejected from a dinner on a Cub Scout camp-out attended by their two sons. While the Cubmaster would allow the biological father to remain, he refused to allow the boys' other parent (who happens to be another man) to stay. (See newspaper article below)
     A similar incident occurred to a lesbian mother after her son joined the local Scout troop. Her story is available on this site.

     These two incidents demonstrate the problem for which BSA's policies do not contemplate. Society and family structures are changing. In the 1980's, BSA finally realized that the number of children being raised by single parents were growing. BSA belatedly adapted their programs and literature to reflect this change in America's families.
     In the 21st century, America's families are continuing to evolve. More gay parents are gaining custody of their children and gay men and lesbians are increasingly raising their own children (obtained via adoption, surrogacy, in vitro fertilization, etc.). While the policy against homosexuals apply to youth members and adult leaders, as Elliott Welsh found out, Scouting's first program (Tiger Cubs) requires the registration of an Adult Partner, normally one of the boy's parents.
     In the event a boy has two parents of the same-sex, BSA's policy would prohibit either of the boy's parents from being his Adult Tiger Partner, thus prohibiting the boy from participating in Scouting. Dan Savage wrote an excellent article on how BSA's policies has a negative impact on his family.
     In addition, as the below article illustrates, BSA has a double standard when it comes to sexual orientation. BSA National will applaud and support the decision of a Pack to refuse to allow both parents of a Scout to attend a Scouting event their child is participating, if they happen to be a same-sex couple. However, it has no problem in allowing single-parents from bringing their current live-in sexual partner, or even a leader from bringing his current sexual partner to a Scouting event, as long as that sexual partner is of the opposite sex.

Pack's shunning of gay dad's lover raises rights issue
by David Eddy
San Luis Obispo, California Telegram-Tribune

March 28, 1992

Boy Scout leaders say they will call the police if an Oceano man brings his gay lover to any more Cub Scout pack meetings. Having the two men at pack meetings is a "disruptive influence," according to Tim Chamberlain, scout executive for the Santa Lucia Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, which covers San Luis Obispo County.

"He wouldn't hesitate a minute (to call the police)," Chamberlain said of Cubmaster Michael Creath of Pack 419. Creath could not be reached for comment.

The problems surfaced last weekend, when Abraham Valencia brought his live-in companion to a Cub Scout camp-out that two of his sons were attending at Camp French. Valencia has one other son, and has had sole custody of the three boys for the past four years.

The two men were only going to stay for dinner, said Valencia, "because we respect their (pack leaders') homophobia."

But Cub Scout leaders wouldn't let the partner stay. According to Valencia, they said they'd received their direction from the national headquarters of Boy Scouts of America in Dallas, Texas.

When contacted, Chamberlain read the scouts' position statement: "The Boy Scouts of America have emphasized traditional family values since the inception of the movement. We believe homosexuals do not provide a role model for scouts that is consistent with these traditional values.

Accordingly, the Boy Scouts of America does not accept homosexuals as members or leaders."

Though Valencia's partner is neither a member nor a leader, his presence clearly flies in the face of the Boy Scouts' position, said Chamberlain, and would be disruptive.

"If people are going to grandstand and express opinions contrary to the Boy Scouts of America, he (Creath) has the right to uphold order ."

Chamberlain emphasized that Valencia, as a parent, is welcome to come. But his partner is not.

The conflict reached the boiling point Wednesday night when Valencia and his partner took the two Cub Scouts, 11-year-old Kevin and 8-year-old Isaac, to the pinewood derby races at North Oceano Elementary School.

Valencia's partner was told he had to leave. (The partner would not reveal his name, because he said the publicity might hurt his chance of getting a job.) "It got real nasty," said Valencia. "I was in the Army 10 years, and I can cuss quite a bit."

If Valencia's partner was not welcome, the boys said they would leave too. But when they got home, Kevin said he got to thinking that the situation was like that of Rosa Parks, a black woman who played a key role in the civil rights movement.

"It's like Mike (Creath) was white, and us being blacks and not willing to give up our seats on the bus," said Kevin. So they all marched back to the meeting and Valencia's partner was allowed to stay. But they were told he would not be welcome again. Valencia's partner said he kept quiet.

"I was already too disgusted to say anything. I don't see why it's a problem for me to see what (Kevin and Isaac) are doing in the Cub Scouts," he said. Valencia said his partner is very involved in the boys' day-to-day lives, and functions much as a parent would, making their lunches, making sure they brush their teeth, and so on.

Going to the meetings and sharing in the boys' achievements is just another normal part of life. "Besides," said the partner. "It's not like we're going to /do/ anything." Indeed, Valencia said that while he and his partner haven't even asked to go on camping trips, Creath has brought his girlfriend along on such outings. If morality is the issue, said Valencia, how can the scouts justify that behavior?

Chamberlain said he wasn't aware of that and couldn't comment. The Boy Scouts of America have no policy on it, he said.

There's one other aspect of the situation that bothers Valencia. While he doesn't have a problem with his partner being barred from meetings at the Cubmaster's home or any other private property, he doesn't think it's right to banish the man from pack meetings at North Oceano Elementary School.

Scott Lathrop, assistant superintendent of business for the Lucia Mar School District, said he doesn't know whether Valencia's partner can be barred from attending meetings at the school. On one hand, the district certainly can't discriminate against anyone. On the other, the state Education Code mandates that the district make the school available to the scouts.

"We're between a rock and a hard place," he said. Lathrop said the district's legal counsel is researching the matter, and should have an answer next week. If the district decides Valencia's partner must be admitted, Chamberlain said the pack will simply meet on private property.

There is one thing that puzzles Valencia. He said there had never been a problem with his partner attending meetings until just recently. Just a month ago, the two men attended the Blue and Gold dinner, an annual scouting event, and no one said a word, Valencia related. And that's despite the fact that Creath and other parents knew the men were gay.

Valencia said the problems began -- and he claims Creath confirmed it -- after Valencia's oldest son, 13-year-old Paul, spoke out in public about his father's homosexuality and was quoted in the next day's Telegram-Tribune.

Paul Valencia stood up at the March 3 city council hearing on San Luis Obispo's gay rights law and said neither his father nor the rest of the family should have to suffer because his father is gay.

"This is not what justice is all about in this society," said Paul, who is not gay. "The law should be passed because children of gay and lesbian parents should not be subjected to discrimination."

Despite his plea, the law failed to pass. And because of it, his two younger brothers probably won't be Cub Scouts much longer.

The two boys say they love scouting, but if it's a choice between remaining Cub Scouts and putting up with discrimination, or standing by their father's partner, they'll choose the latter.

"It sounds like he (Creath) is trying to put up a big brick wall around him like he doesn't exist," said Kevin, nodding at his father's partner.

"That's not right."

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