Below is another example of how BSA's discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation has a direct negative impact on the lives of children. In this case, we don't know the sexual orientation of the boy. But, does it matter?
Lesbian Challenges Scout Policy
Apex - A Point of Departure
Vol 1, No 1 - February 1992
by Annette Dragon
All she wanted to do was enroll her son in the Boy Scouts and be a
part of his life. It seemed like such a simple thing to Terry. A longtime resident of Portland. Maine, and mother of nine-year-old Nicholas. But the unyielding homophobia that she encountered ensured that none of her plans would come to a simple conclusion. Now, instead of going on field trips and being a den mother. Terry spends her time fighting for gay rights and preparing for the talk-show circuit. She has become the subject of press releases.
national newspaper articles and television news. And Terry is sure that some kind of fate has brought her and the Boy Scouts of America together.
In September of 1991. Terry (her full legal name) and her son went to the First Free Methodist Church of Portland to officially enroll him in the Scouts. Nicholas had been participating in Scout activities for
six weeks. They were both excited. At registration Terry was approached by a man in a Boy Scout uniform. who introduced himself as Paul Conley. Without preliminaries Conley began telling Terry about the California discrimination case pending with the BSA, involving a gay man who was not allowed be a Scout leader because of his sexual orientation. Terry was amazed that these were his first remarks to her, and checked her clothing for a large "L." After he
finished, she said, "I am a lesbian; is that going to be a problem?" His answer was affirmative and Terry was dumbfounded. She was an upstanding citizen in her community, owned a business on Munjoy Hill and had been openly gay for years. And now the offer of her valuable time and considerable influence was being rejected because she was gay. Conley explained that the BSA teaches children about the socially accepted family, the one with a mother and a father. He
told her that the exclusion of gays was strictly Boy Scout policy, not his. Terry alleges that he then gave her his own unsolicited opinion on homosexuality. The .idea of two men together was repulsive, but two women was erotic. The final insult was when he informed her that he and she would never see gay rights laws passed in their lifetime.
Terry next confronted the pastor of the First Free Methodist Church,
the Rev. Dr. Harold Cooper another Big Boy Scout. She was told that the policy of the BSA would allow Nicholas to become a Scout and her to be a participating parent, but would never allow her to be on a committee, or to be a den mother, or to hold any official position. Terry pointed out the undisguised discrimination of that policy. Having no doubt about where she stood with the Scouts, she decided to check out he personal status with the clergyman.
She asked if she would be welcome at his church and was told that she'd be welcome to worship there.
"Would I be welcome to become a member?"
He added that this was the church's official policy, not his. He had many gay friends and was not homophobic .
Terry decided to put things on hold for a few days while she investigated her options. She said nothing to her son.
Four nights later Nick came home from a Scout meeting. He told his mother that he had been stared at during the meeting and blamed for everything and that he didn't want to go back. Terry then told him what had happened earlier that week at registration; how the Scouts didn't like gay people. Nick said, "What's so bad about being gay? It's your life; you should be able to live it the way you want to."
Terry deals with things. She contacted GLAD (Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders) and they agreed to represent her in the capacity of a legal resource to publicize the matter. Mary L. Bonauto, Terry's lawyer and staff attorney with GLAD, says, "The BSA idea of family is not the average family in the 1990's. In fact, their policy is
anti-family – especially when 1990 US Census Data shows that less than a quarter of families surveyed fit the so-called traditional model prescribed by the BSA." She adds that Maine has no anti-discrimination law and that Terry's case is a perfect example of "open season on gays."
Terry has been contacted once by Robert Denlinger, local director of
the BSA. He wanted to meet with her and settle things without lawyers. Terry declined. When asked for a statement, ".Jeff" from me Pine Tree Council of the BSA acknowledged that the policy is exclusionary and discriminatory, but legal. No single group of heterosexuals is categorically denied leadership status, Theoretically, a person could be a drug-addicted alcoholic with a record of child molestation (BSA does not check for criminal backgrounds) and still
be awarded a full membership as long as the person is straight.
Terry suggests that people who do not want their children to learn the discriminatory values promoted by the BSA can do the following:
1 ) Enroll their children in 4-H which acknowledges the diversity of family relationships;
2) Ask the Portland United Way to stop spending $82,000 per year on the Boy Scouts; and
3) Ask. their local public schools not to offer meeting space or other services funded with public tax dollars to the Scouts.
She urges people to write their senators and representatives and demand that they co-sponsor the
Federal Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights Bill. The content of personal letters is heavily weighed. Callers and letter writers, should ask for a written response.
Terry thinks back on the last couple of months. She looks very serious. "The hardest thing I've had to do through this whole mess," she say, "is keep a straight face while dealing with grown men in little-boy uniforms." Then she bursts into laughter.