Boy Scout Troop Adopts Policy Welcoming Gay Members… aaaaaand It’s Gone

Just when you thought a Boy Scout troop had come to its senses and stopped discriminating against gay people, it reverted back to its discriminatory ways.

In September, Maryland’s Pack 442 voted for and adopted a non-discrimination policy, one that would welcome gay scouts:

Soon after the policy was adopted, the National Capital Area Council (a Boy Scouts of America local council) came after the group:

Les Baron, CEO and Scout Executive of NCAC, confirms to Mother Jones that if the pack doesn’t erase the declaration, “they will not be recognized as an organization, although that’s our last resort.” That means that the troop will lose access to member insurance, rank badges, and scout camps. The only problem with the statement, Baron acknowledges, is the reference to sexual orientation. “That’s a message that’s against our policy, and we don’t want it continue to be out in our community,” Baron says.

So what did Pack 442 do?

They caved in so they could keep their charter:

Due to pressure from the National Capital Area Council of BSA, Pack 442 was forced to remove its Non-Discrimination statement in order to keep our Charter (set to expire Jan 31st). This Non-Discrimination statement, previously posted here, welcomed ALL families.

A bit passive-aggressive, perhaps, but the outcome is still the same, right? Gay scouts will not be welcome in the BSA chapter.

Well, maybe not.

The group has a poll on its site asking member families to vote on whether they want to keep the old policy and become an independent scouting group (losing their BSA charter in the process) or return to a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

I hope the former option prevails and sends a message to the BSA: If you continue to ban people from your ranks because of their sexual orientation, we want nothing to do with you.

(Thanks to Luther for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • WetCoastAtheist

    This sounds so familiar somehow; banning people for ridiculous reasons …. oh right A+ and FTBs

  • Mark Hunter

    That’s only Boy Scouts USA. Scouts Canada does not discriminate.

  • MD

    Neither does the UK’s Scout Association. Not for gender or sexual identity.

  • A3Kr0n

    It looks like anybody can pharyngulate then poll.

  • Taxihorn

    I hope they become an independent scouting group, write their own charter, and then go nationwide. Having an all inclusive audience base would eventually be an advantage over the exclusive-for-no-good-reason BSA.

  • Mark O’Leary

    Please explain why the revised statement is “passive aggressive.” I find the comment inaccurate and unhelpful.

  • LouisDoench

    Right, because… reasons…i guess…no, I can’t even fathom what the A+ forums (primarily a web discussion forum that makes no pretense at being any kind of national membership based organization) or Freethought Blogs, (a privately owned blogging portal for adults) could possibly be doing that would be the equivalent of a huge national organization discriminating openly against LGBT and atheist teenagers. Not if “equivalent” means anything at all.

  • LouisDoench

    I think its unfair to say that they “caved in” Hemant. Losing support from the national organization could be crippling financially.Especially replacing the insurance coverage.

  • Patterrssonn

    Because taking a stand against bigotry is the worst kind of bigotry there is. Don’t worry though, I’m sure the A+ movement can be defeated but only by constant whining about it. Keep up the good work WCA.

  • TCC

    Right, in the way that Gisele Bundchen reminds me of Gary Coleman.

  • Patterrssonn

    The Khakii Scouts would never do this.

  • Jasper

    Nice derailing/trolling

  • coyotenose

    Poor, poor lying baby.

  • Gus Snarp

    Well, there’s one for everyone who keeps saying its ok to stay with the BSA because units are fairly independent and can make their own membership decisions. I guess the units can choose not to discriminate as long as they keep it secret. Disgusting.

  • Gus Snarp

    For the sake of accuracy, a pack is Cub Scouts, kids 6 -10. A troop is Boy Scouts, ages 11 – 18. While Cub Scouts are part of the Boy Scouts of America, there is a difference between a Cub Scout pack and a Boy Scout troop.

  • Conspirator

    I think these people have good intentions, unfortunately blogs like this posting the poll means people who aren’t involved will vote, thus skewing the results. Considering they know how many families they have, it will be obvious to them that news of the poll got out and they will throw out the results. It’s a shame, because it’d be nice to how this group actually responds.

  • Mark Hunter

    I also am a Scout leader and Scouts Canada is okay with me being an atheist.

  • Erp

    They can go independent but they won’t be allowed to use the word ‘scout’ since the BSA has a monopoly on that in the US (Girl Scouts being the one exception due to some unusual circumstances [or troops consisting of foreign nationals and affiliated with foreign embassies]) and the BSA does go after other groups that do us ‘scout’. The big hits will be loss of insurance and inability to use names, etc. trademarked by the BSA (they don’t lose their bank account or other assets since those legally belongs to the sponsoring organization).

  • Phil

    Back in the 1990′s the scouts pulled out of Oak Park, IL public schools because the School District had a nondiscrimination policy and was not going to back down when the scouts asked for an exception. Camp Fire Kids was happy to step in and create an excellent alternative program. BSA continues to operate troops out of catholic schools and I believe one conservative protestant church. It’s been a few years since I lived there, however.

  • Anna

    No surprise there. The BSA is quite aggressive in going after anyone who fails to spout the official party line.

  • Thalfon

    Yep. I was a scout, never a leader, but my father was a leader and my aunt still is one. Even “Scouts’ Own” (which was originally all about spirituality or whatever, essentially a mini church service) became more and more about nature (including how to treat nature well) and ethics, and the prayer was replaced by something as religiously neutral as possible. (Not perfect, but passable and fair.)

  • Thalfon

    I don’t know that it’s necessarily used (or at least, wasn’t intended) in a negative way here. The message on the website made it very clear that the decision was forced from them and that the previous one “welcomed ALL families” with the “ALL” in caps. It seems pretty clear that in the same text that states they’re removing the anti-discrimination change, they’re also being very clear that they think the move is utterly unfair, and pointing an accusing and disapproving finger at BSA. This is probably what Hemant was describing as passive-aggressive.

    Hence the sentence “A bit passive-agressive, perhaps, but the outcome is still the same” should be read as “They’re fighting against it a little with their wording, but in the end the policy is once again discriminatory.”

  • labman57

    It’s ironic that the BSA leadership would be so adamant that their self-proclaimed Christian morality compels them to discriminate against gay youth … while simultaneously protecting their own child-abusing scout leaders. (

  • Tom

    It is meaningless to describe one’s first and only threat, over a non-negotiable demand, as a “last resort.” It’s a mindless, draconian response lacking any nuance whatsoever and they’re clearly abusing phrases like this to try and paper over that, since this is the kind of behaviour that can alienate even the people on one’s own side.

  • Edmond

    Polls are not really known to be scientifically accurate (to say nothing of ONLINE polls), and maybe it’s good that the pack learn that, and find a more restricted way of polling only their families and no one else.
    On the other hand, I like the idea of them getting wider input, so they can judge what kind of support they would have from the outside world. I can only hope that support would the right kind.

  • Mark Hunter

    Scouts Canada said as long as you “acknowledge a power greater than mankind”. I was tempted to say womankind and leave it at that but instead took an Einsteinian approach and reflected on the awe I have i the universe I have found myself in.

    I wouldn’t be a Scout leader or let my son attend Scouts if they discriminated and I’m so glad they don’t as children today need that contact with nature.

    Winter camp in two weeks. Outside two nights in tents at up to 20 below. (below that we go inside – my rule). We have good equipment, we make sure they dress appropriately and thy love it.

  • Mark Hunter

    Or work to change it. They will. You may get a fight because 25% of US Scout troops are associate with the Mormon Church.

  • Cat’s Staff

    If I remember the wording of their policies correctly, the Boy Scouts don’t discriminate against gay scouts because they don’t think boys can be gay. They discriminate against gay adult leaders. They do discriminate again atheist scouts and adults.

  • rlrose328

    There already IS a scout organization that accepts anyone, regardless of gender, religion, etc. It’s called Campfire and has been co-ed since the late 70s. My son has been attending their summer camp for 6 years in a row. The local troop is new and has all 1st and 2nd graders and my 8th grader isn’t interested, but if we had an troop with older kids, we’d be there in a heartbeat. I tried to set one up but couldn’t drum up interest… Hmm… I’m seeing a pattern here.

  • TicklishMeerkat

    I think it’s great that anybody can answer the poll. I want them to see how many people around the world are behind them. They can always filter by IP if they’re that worried about skewed results.

  • Cecelia Baines

    Riiight, so much for grace under pressure and doing the right thing when faced with hardship. This is the role model for the scouts???

    The BSA is a disgusting and cowardly organization.

  • Cecelia Baines

    He is right. A+ is just the far left side of bigotry and judgment. There is no good that comes from A+

  • Sock Puppet

    You really have quite the love affair going on with A+.

  • Patterrssonn

    Yes Cecilia I do. Would you like to be the best man at the wedding?

  • Patterrssonn

    The pope’s declared it a threat to world peace!

  • Anna

    That’s not entirely accurate. If a Boy Scout is known to identify as gay, and the hierarchy learns about it, he’ll be kicked out. Since plenty of kids come out during middle school and high school, there are lots of gay Scouts in danger of being expelled from the organization.

    Although since this was a Cub Scout pack, more likely the non-discrimination policy was aimed at making children from same-sex families feel welcome. Officially, children of gay and lesbian parents are permitted to join, but their parents are not allowed to be involved in the troop in any official capacity.

  • Miss_Beara

    Boy Scouts- “booooo, gays are baaaadd!!111!1!”

    excuse us while we quietly look the other direction while troop leaders are abusing boys.

  • Erp

    The problem is tracking down their policies. For a while it seemed that they wouldn’t allow gay leaders which would include all adults and also youth in leadership roles (patrol leader, doing an Eagle project since that requires leading, etc.) but didn’t ban gay youth not in leadership roles. More recently they’ve announced no gays either youth or adults.

  • Trickster Goddess

    “acknowledge a power greater than mankind”

    I think earthquakes and hurricanes fit that definition.

  • Mark Hunter


  • TCC

    Well, as long as you’re being reasonable about it.

  • RobMcCune

    I don’t think they can help it at this point, they’re minds are slowly being taken over by a weird ranty form of pareidolia. Soon they’ll be unable to stay on topic and go off on random tangents for no reason, just like republicans. So sad to see.

  • meekinheritance

    I admit my ignorance. What are A+ and FTBs? Thank you.

  • LutherW

    I think that is what they tried. The question is what is their next step.

  • baal

    I’d assume the pack has a email list that they could use to poll the families directly via surveymonkey or somesuch.

  • M. Elaine

    I think this is a wonderful “teachable moment” for the young Scouts, a lesson in honor. I’m reminded of what Kaffee said to Dawson in the excellent final scene of A Few Good Men: “You don’t need to wear a patch on your arm to have honor.”

  • Upaut

    Funnily enough, the more commonwealth Baden scouts now have chapters in the US, mostly because it is exactly the same, without the discrimination. They can even keep the uniforms, with a few path changes, and the scout law is the without “reverant”

  • Mark Hunter
  • Patterrssonn

    Seriously? You couldn’t google it? Or are you just trying to give WCA an excuse to whine some more.

  • meekinheritance

    Seriously, you think I didn’t already do that, wise guy? A+ and FTB both give a LOT of results that don’t seem relevant to this conversation. Now that I know how to fish, it would be nice to have something to eat.

  • allein

    “Atheism+” (social justice movement that causes a lot of tedious arguments whenever there’s a post about it) and “Freethought Blogs” (blog portal similar to Patheos or Big Think; home of PZ Myers among others)

  • meekinheritance

    Thank you.

  • allein

    You’re welcome.

  • Patterrssonn

    Sorry but I’m used to slymepitters and MRA’s feigning naivete, pretending to be a disinterested 3rd party, then building to a ragegasm about A+ or FTB, referred to as Free Thought Bullies by MRA’s.

  • roberthughmclean

    Do the magic undies come in olive green?