Monday, January 22, 2007

What does it say on Jeff Dion's Cub Scout Leader Form?

Having written this post, I am disturbed by it. Jeff Dion is running for a public office, and as such he opens himself up to public scrutiny. And clearly truthfulness is a valid issue, and respect for rules is a valid issue. Respect for the rules of the Boy Scouts, if you want to be associated with them, is a valid issue.

Now, Jeff doesn't list being a cubmaster on his web site. Of course, he also says nothing about being gay, or living with a male partner. Here's what he does list:

Jeff was active in his church and in Boy Scouts. He developed a love and respect for the outdoors and eventually earned the rank of Eagle Scout.
Jeff currently lives in Lake Ridge with his two children, , where Jeff volunteers for the PTA.

Jeff currently serves as the President of the Antietam Woods Condo Association and is a volunteer for ACTS (Action in the Community Through Service). Jeff and his family attend St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Woodbridge.

His site refers you to his resume, which has this type of information:

Antietam Woods Condo. Assn., 2003-present
Vice President, 2003-2006
President, 2006-present

President, Amberleigh Homeowners Assn.,1995- 2000

PTA Volunteer, Antietam Elementary School
Chairman, Muffins with Mom, 2006

ACTS Volunteer

It seems Jeff purposely left out his involvement as a cubmaster. He obviously thought being in couting was a positive, as he listed his own involvement, and played on his highly coveted eagle award. And he obviously didn't mind listing even MINOR public service, like being the volnteer chair of the "muffins with mom".

Being a cubmaster is a big deal, and any politician would prominently display that, unless they didn't want it to be an issue.

Well, it seems clear why he doesn't want it to be an issue -- because most certainly if people put two and two together, he'll be booted from the position by the boy scouts. Jeff goes out of his way to NOT tell us about being Cubmaster, to NOT mention his sexuality, and to NOT mention his partner even while prominently mentioning living with his children. Imagine a heterosexual who mentioned his children while leaving out a woman he lived with for 4 years.

But that's the problem. What right do I have to violate Jeff's obvious desire to keep his association with the cub scouts a secret? Frankly, I almost deleted this post. If I actually get traction on this, (and I certainly will if I write about it in my column, but probably not from this post) he'll likely lose his position. His children will be negatively impacted, if they aren't already from the publicity he's trying to avoid on his sexuality.

But I'm a former scout, and currently involved in scouting myself as my son is moving through the ranks. I have an obligation to the organization, an obligation shared by Jeff Dion, although we apparently have different views on what that obligation entails.

Yet this is why I don't like politics. In the abstract, why would anyone offer themselves for public service if they have to endure digging into their background. However, it's not like Jeff has hidden his sexuality, he seems to be playing on it but only in the background, while "hiding" it in plain site from the population as a whole, with the help of the media. But he does seems to be trying to NOT draw attention to some aspects of his life.

So I want this to be clear: While I am personally opposed to homosexuality, and feel nobody should live a homosexual lifestyle, I do not think that being a homosexual is a disqualifying characteristic for a public servant, and if they want to keep their sexuality truly private that is their decision, not mine. My opposition to Jeff is not based on his homosexuality, but on his politics. And this post is not about Jeff being a homosexual -- it is about Jeff seeming to violate the rules of the BSA while serving as a leader.

OK, on to my post.

James Young posted Saturday (To Whom else is Jeff Dion Lying) that Jeff Dion was a Cub Scout pack leader. Greg L. confirmed this (Jeff Dion: Your Gay Scoutmaster) -- at least so far as to find the pack's web site listing Jeff Dion's e-mail address as the contact for the cub leader. A further check at that site clearly indicates Jeff Dion is the Cubmaster, listed as such on Committee Members page.

TO be the leader of a cub pack, you must fill out an official form, which among other things requires pledges to follow the BSA bylaws. A copy of the form can be found here -- "Be a Scouting Volunteer":

Only persons willing to subscribe to the Declaration of Religious Principle and to the Bylaws of the Boy Scouts of America shall be entitled to certificates of leadership.

But there is nothing explicit in the bylaws or the religious principles to reject homosexuals. The bylaws do give the organization the right to define their own leadership qualifications.

The document most often cited prohibiting gay leaders is a 1978 internal memo A copy can be found on an anti-BSA-exclusion web site. The operative part of that memo is:

Q: May an individual who openly declares himself to be a homosexual be a registered unit member?

A: No. As the Boy Scouts of America is a private membership organization, participation in the program is a privilege, not a right. We do not feel that membership of such individuals is in the best interest of scouting.

This policy has never been revoked, has been affirmed several times, and has been the center of several recent lawsuits, all of which were found in favor of the BSA restriction on avowed homosexuals in both leadership and membership.

Now, can a local organization allow a gay leader in opposition to the national committee? No. According to a resolution passed in 2002 (relevant parts):

7. WHEREAS the national officers further agree that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the traditional values espoused in the Scout Oath and Law and that an avowed homosexual cannot serve as a role model for the values of the Oath and Law; and

8. WHEREAS, the national officers reaffirm that, as a national organization whose very reason for existence is to instill and reinforce values in youth, the BSA's values cannot be subject to local option choices, but must be the same in every unit; and

9. WHEREAS, the Boy Scouts of America respects the right of persons and individuals to hold values and standards different than the Boy Scouts of America, the national officers also agree that the Boy Scouts of America is entitled to expect that persons and organizations with different values and standards will nevertheless respect those of the Boy Scouts of America;

10. THEREFORE, the national officers recommend the National Executive Board affirm that the Boy Scouts of America shall continue to follow its traditional values and standards of leadership.

It is clear that the Boy Scouts of America expect all packs to conform to the rules, and all leaders to agree to and abide by the prohibition on homosexuals.

Now, Is there anything on the application that commits an applicant to following the rules of the BSA (which include the prohibition on homosexual leaders), as opposed to simply agreeing to the bylaws?

Yes, it is spelled out at the point of the applicant's signature:

b. In signing this application, I have read the attached information and apply for registration with the Boy Scouts of America. I agree to comply with the Charter and Bylaws, and the Rules and Regulations of the Boy Scouts of America and the local council. I affirm that the information I have given on this form is true and correct. I will follow the Youth Protection guidelines.

Could Jeff Dion be unfamiliar with the rules and regulations of the Boy Scouts as regards openly homosexual leadership? It is highly unlikely.

If Jeff was familiar with the rules and knowingly violates them, that would be a valid issue for a campaign for public office. BTW, the same would be true if Jeff Dion was an atheist (another rule of the BSA), NOTE he is NOT, and I'm not suggesting he is, just saying that this isn't about him being homosexual, it's about him signing a form saying he would comply with the rules and regulations of the BSA, which clearly prohibit him from being a cubmaster.

Now, I happen to think the prohibition of gays is not as fundamental to scouting as the prohibition of atheists and agnostics. But it is a rule nonetheless, and a rule that has been found constitutional. Scouting teaches, among other things, the respect for rules -- and in this case there seems to be a lack of respect for the organization's rules.

There's another section which would have put Jeff in a difficult position. After a specific set of questions about former charges of child abuse, etc., there is this general question:

e. Other than the above, is there any fact or circumstance involving you or your background that would call into question your being entrusted with the supervision, guidance, and care of young people? (If yes, explain below.)

Now, I'm certain a gay person would insist they are not a danger to children. But that's not the question. It asks if anything "would call into question". Well, the official BSA position is that being openly homosexual makes you unsuitable to be a leader. Knowing that, a homosexual application, being truthful, would have to answer "yes" and explain his sexual orientation, to give the BSA the opportunity to decide if his homosexuality did, in fact, call into question his fitness for leadership.

So it would be interesting to find out if Jeff Dion did, in fact, disclose his homosexuality when applying to be the leader of a scout troop -- assuming that he actually applied, and is formally the scout leader, which I suppose we can't be sure of although you can't really be a cub master without going through the checks.

I believe homosexuals have every right to voice their opposition to the Boy Scout prohibition on gays. They can use the court of public opinion to try to change the rules. They can make sure people sponsoring the scouts, or looking to join, understand the rules.

What they should NOT do is make a mockery of the scout rules by violating them. As a candidate for public office, the violation of the rules of an organization he has sworn an oath to uphold is a legitimate public concern.

1 comment:

James Young said...

Of course, Charles, this makes you nothing more than a fa... er, gay-basher. Hadn't you heard? Gays are entitled to lie in order to advance the radical homosexual agenda.

Shame on you.