An embarrassing eccentricity

Would be crossposted from Equality Loudoun, except we’re down for maintenance and migration. Returning soon.

What a ridiculous story this is.

Scouting (like the military, like every other part of life) includes people who are openly gay. That means parents who are leaders and volunteers, and scouts themselves. For the most part, participants act as if those embarrassing prohibitions on people simply being who they are no longer exist. In fact, they will no longer exist for service members as of September 20.

The two women get it exactly right, I think. At some point a quasi-public organization practicing overt discrimination like this finds itself so out of touch with its members and community that its bottom line is affected, and incidents like this only create a humiliating awareness that these policies still exist.

The best part of the story, though – the one that shows the Boy Scouts will be just fine – is this perceptive remark by a friend of the family, after reciting the scout law (a scout should be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, etc.).

“I mean, when the leaders of the troop hear that, how does it feel? Were they loyal to Denise? It certainly wasn’t kind what they’ve done to her,” [Eric] Ianson continued. “It absolutely isn’t brave. The brave thing to do would be to take a stand here and say this isn’t right, this person has been great to our kids and it’s time to stand up for her and be great for her.”

This is an Eagle Scout who has internalized the values of scouting and understood them much better than the reactionary leadership at the top of the hierarchy. The right thing to do is to acknowledge the truth you can see for yourself, and to stand up for your friend. There are many more like him.

Then there’s this, from a fellow assistant scout master:

It’s a shame that a good leader for the boys has been removed because of one person who’s eccentric when it comes to his religious belief.

Ouch. But that’s what the reality is; such evidently specious bigotry is eccentric, and rapidly becoming more so. That’s not a good place to be.

Although it’s they who have caused harm to others, scolds like Skip Inabinett are prone to claim that it’s their own rights being violated when other people find their views archaic, eccentric or bigoted. In fact, there is no right to have people agree with you. There is no right to demand that you be exempt from criticism, ridicule or irrelevance. And there is no right to have me assure you that you are not a bigot, when what you’re doing is expressing the view that I deserve inherently inferior rights and privileges because of who I am. Calling that ‘eccentric’ seems generous in a way.

10 thoughts on “An embarrassing eccentricity

  1. Republican

    What can I say. That guy Inabinett is an idiot and should be run out of troop. I am sorry this happened. This whole thing should be dropped by the BSA. We got it out of the military and now we will remove it from BSA.

    I would like to see these guys rejoin our troop. We can give them cover and fight the BSA. All this nonsense is going to cause is a non-biased copy of BSA to be made.

    They are out of touch with the mainstream of thinking amongst scouters.

  2. Liz Miller

    I’m looking into whether its practical to have my son in 4H, given that we’re in the Broadlands.

    4H fosters many of the same ideals as BSA…but leaves out the institutionalized bigotry, which is something I’d rather not have fostered in my son.

    It’s too bad that boys can’t join the GSA.

  3. Epluribusunum Post author

    There are some very good troops in Loudoun that wouldn’t put up with this nonsense for a split second. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have any eccentric cranks like Inabinett hanging around, but that the rest of the leadership acts like adults, puts the kids first, and prevents such people from becoming abusive. The fault really seems to rest with the chartering organization, Christian Fellowship Church – notably, this church was founded by Jay Ahlemann, the same pastor who embarrassed some local papers a few years ago by purchasing full-page ads obsessing about “the sin of homosexuality.” At least one of those papers editorialized the following week, acknowledging that the ad promoted harmful falsehoods. Being familiar with this church, it explains why there was a troop culture in which one assistant scout master felt free to harass, insult and proselytize another assistant scout master over a period of weeks.

  4. Epluribusunum Post author

    Are you allowed to keep livestock in the Broadlands? I have a friend who kept another friend’s goats in her backyard on Capitol Hill for several weeks. She was nervous the whole time about someone turning her in, but finally the goats were moved to their new home without incident. A few days later, a neighbor stopped her to say “I’ve been meaning to ask you something. What kind of dogs were those you had back here?”

  5. Anon

    For those of you who go on to the original Loudoun Times article, you should be aware of problems throughout the piece. The “reporter” Laura Peters did absolutely no research in her mad dash to present Steele’s plight, and in the process made grievous errors which make the article laughable. I outlined the errors in an email to Peters and excerpt them below:

    “First of all, your ignorance of BSA programs is advertised in almost every sentence. A few examples: Cub Scouts are organized into “packs,” not “troops.” Scoutmaster is one word, not two. The training to become an Assistant Scoutmaster takes less than a week, not a year. Now let’s get more specific:
    1. You paint Mrs. Steele as a selfless volunteer who sinlehandedly saved a Cub Scout “troop”: “Steele started out in Boy Scouts as a den leader for her son, Jackson, 12, for his school, Horizon Elementary. No other parent would step up to the plate to take on the responsibility of leading a Cub Scout troop.[sic]” Den Leaders do not lead a Cub Scout pack. Packs are broken into dens, each den would be at least 2 boys and ideally no more than 8. The pack is run by a Cubmaster, not a Den Leader. Den Leaders are only responsible for leading activities during den meetings, and if a pack were to be unable to accomodate Steele’s son and his classmates, there are–like Boy Scout troops–many packs that they could have joined instead; for example, there are 5 Cub Scout packs within 10 minutes of my home in the suburbs of Richmond.

    2. You report that Steele’s “troop [sic] excelled at everything, including accomplishing badges and winning the Blue and Gold Award all five years, one of the highest awards for Boy Scouts.” Again, your ignorane of Scouting shines. You are reporting on the period before Steele or her son were involved in Boy Scouting–they were Cub Scouts–yet you call them Boy Scouts. Worse than that, there is no such thing as a Blue and Gold Award in American Cub Scouting. Even if there were such an award, it would not be among the highest awards available to Boy Scouts, Cub Scout awards cannot be worn on the Boy Scout uniform (except for the Arrow of Light). The Blue and Gold Banquet is an awards dinner held by Cub Scout packs to recap their year and recognize advancement for the scouts; everyone in the pack is invited, it isn’t elite.

    3. Your statement that “After graduating from Cub Scouts, the next step is to find the right Boy Scout troop. All boys are able to select which troop best fits them instead of being automatically placed based on the schools they attend.” implies that Cub Scouts are automatically placed in a pack based on school or street address. They are not. Like Boy Scout troops, Cub Scout packs are open enrollment. Again: Google is your friend.

    4. Lest I spit it out, I had to postpone a sip of coffee when I read “The training process to become a scout leader usually takes about a year. Steele completed it in three weeks. ” This is utterly false. There are 4 training components to become an Assistant Scoutmaster and wear he “Trained” patch: Youth Protection Training, This is Scouting, Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills, and Leader Specific Training. Youth Protection training takes 30 mintes to an hour, max; it is an onlinevideo and quiz series, which you can view here: myscouting.org. This is Scouting is a basic introduction to the Boy Scout program, it is also online and takes less than an hour to complete. Intro to Outdoor Leader Skills teaches basic scouting skills to adult leaders (so they’re competent when teaching the boys) and takes one weekend campout. Leader Specific training is an indoor session that takes one Saturday afternoon to complete. If Mrs. Steele is the person that told you it takes a year to complete the training to become an Assistant Scoutmaster (as she aspired to be), then she lied to you. While you were eager to create an aura of “uber leader” around Steele by tauting her 3 week “accomplishment” all you really did was demonstrate that she took more time to complete the training than is necessary. Anyone can complete the training in 2 weeks.
    On top of that, the only one of these 4 training components that is required to register as an Asst SM is Youth Protection; the others are optional. A National policy change will require the other 3 next year, but the fact of the matter is that currently Steele could be an Asst Scoutmaster in a matter of minutes.”

  6. @anon

    Anon,

    You’ve chased this article all over the internet. Close to 500K impressions, so you might want to move onto something else. Given all the energy you’ve put forth, your name is either Skip or Phil…or possibly one of their supporters. It’s comical.

    Yes, the writer was young and got some of the facts wrong. But you’re trying to steer from the facts. Skip is a bad, bad man who hurts people.

    Atheist to this in just a year? Hmmm.

    He should move back to Maryland with his crazy political views (look him up). You should go with him.

  7. Elder Berry

    Picking picking picking at obscure details about scouting does not obscure the fact that a good and decent community volunteer was hounded out of leadership in an organization for kids (who need all the help they can get these days) by a small-minded bigot. Reporters misunderstand or misdescribe minutia in media every day. That’s not the point. The point is that one prejudiced nasty has ruined it for a bunch of kids.

    Did we see the bigot even offering to step in as a volunteer? Doubt it. Haters rarely manage to accomplish anything positive.

    A member of my family is a scout leader. It takes a real commitment of time and energy and skill working with parents as well as kids. That’s not easily found these days. Unfortunately what does seem to be all too easily found is bigotry and nastiness.

    Whoever you are, if you force us to “take sides”, you’re on the wrong side.

  8. Epluribusunum Post author

    Thanks for following up with this, @anon. The sheer amount of effort involved in typing all those irrelevant words to demonstrate that a reporter doesn’t possess detailed knowledge of the minutia of Scouting is somewhat breathtaking. It does show that, although they know that the “war” is already lost, the bitter clingers will valiantly harm as many young people as they can while they go down still fighting. Girl Scout cookies, really?

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