A Cub Scout pack in Maryland has decided to jettison its gay-friendly membership guidelines under threat of losing its Boy Scouts of America charter, according to a statement on the pack’s website.
Pack 442 of Cloverly, Md., had adopted a non-discrimination policy that read: “Pack 442 WILL NOT discriminate against any individual or family based on race, religion, national origin, ability, or sexual orientation.”
But over the weekend, the pack posted a notice on its website reading: “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.”
The pack’s position ran counter to the Boy Scouts’ membership guidelines, which ban openly gay members or leaders.
Activist groups stepped up their campaign to end the longstanding ban last year after California teen Ryan Andresen was denied the Eagle rank because he is gay, and following the dismissal of Jennifer Tyrrell as den leader of her son’s Tiger Cub pack in Ohio because she is a lesbian.
Theresa Phillips, committee chair of Pack 442, said her group had the same motivations.
“I think we need to start at this level,” she told NBC News on Saturday. “We need to teach the boys … respect for other people and their lifestyles.”
A call placed to Phillips on Monday seeking comment on the removal of the policy was not immediately returned. It was not clear if the pack would continue to accept all families under a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach similar to the one used by the military until it was rescinded last year.
The pack’s member families approved the non-discrimination policy last August, and it was discussed in detail with district leaders and the regional council, to which the pack belongs, from August through October.
The issue appeared to be settled, but when the council “contacted us a few weeks ago pressuring us to remove our statement, we attempted to negotiate a rewording of the statement that would represent a compromise on the matter, but ultimately NCAC leadership felt only removal of the statement would be acceptable,” the pack said on its website.
“It's clear to us that they chose this time to bring that up because they knew that we needed to recharter at the end of January,” Phillips said.
Scout Executive Les Baron, a council leader, confirmed to NBC News on Friday that the pack could lose its charter if it maintained the policy: The “policy of the Boy Scouts are what they are and my job is to not bring into (it) my own personal feelings.”
The pack committee had been split on a way forward, which prompted a poll on whether they would keep the policy and possibly not be rechartered, or if they would remove it and return to a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy welcoming all families.
The poll, which ended Friday night and was conducted on the pack website, came out 53 percent in favor of reverting to “don’t ask, don’t tell” and 47 percent backing the new policy, said Phillips, who voted in favor of explicitly including gays and lesbians. The poll had called for a two-thirds majority, she said.
The Boy Scouts reaffirmed its ban on gays and lesbians in 2012 following a two-year confidential review.
A national BSA spokesman, Deron Smith, said in an email on Friday that the private organization "has policies that all councils and local units agree to follow."
Boy Scouts: We're keeping policy banning gays