15 Sep 2014
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Brookline Boy Scout Leader Protests Scouts' Sexual Orientation Stance

Dr. Karin Weldon, former leader of a Brookline Boy Scouts Den quits after the national organization reaffirms its position on gay rights, creates a petition.

Brookline Boy Scout Leader Protests Scouts' Sexual Orientation Stance

A Brookline Cub Scout Den may dissolve, but its former leaders is not going quietly: firing off  a petition about part of the Boy Scouts of America's (BSA) national policy.

When the BSA  reaffirmed its position, which bans openly gay boys in the group, and allowed gay and lesbian adults from serving as leaders in July, this came as "a bit of a surprise" to local Den Leader Dr. Karin Weldon, who heard about it through the general media. Patch sat down with Weldon to ask about her decision.

"We were operating under our local council's anti-discrimination policy, that does include language covering sexual orientation. That is different than the National policy, and it's been that way since 2001," Weldon said.

The policy states:

“While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.”

The local council regarded the sexual orientation policy as a " Blue Law," that is out-dated and waiting to be fixed. However, July's announcement created an environment which Weldon compared to the military's recently repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

"We felt that it was not only unfair, but antiquated," Weldon said. "It was no longer relevant in our world today. Though the policy was unchanged from before, the setting in which it's being announced is very different from when it was announced before, so it's more upsetting."

Weldon, a physician, also noted an emphasis in the public health field on and efforts to decrease the rate of teen suicides. She feels that any policy advocating exclusion or hate will affect the well-being of the boys. 

She added, "As a parent and a scout leader, I don't think that it's acceptable to continue in scouting, or adhere to any kind of policy that would do that."

Weldon and her family first became involved with the scouts two years ago, when her son was interested in joining at the the Bear level. This year, the boys were about to be awarded the Arrow of Light — the only Cub Scout badge which can be worn on the Boy Scout uniform. 

However, with the resignation of Weldon and some of the other den leaders, the future of the Brookline pack is uncertain.

"It was really hard, because when you work with kids for that long, you become attached," Weldon said. "I was attached not only to these wonderful kids, but to the outcome, which was to ferry them through Arrow of Light and watch them graduate into the Boy Scouts. Now I won't be able to do that."

A mutual friend of Weldon's directed her to  Change.org, where she worked on a petition, which went live yesterday. The petition calls on Massachusetts Boy Scouts and Scout Leaders to reject the national organization's stance. 

"When I decided to leave in protest — I don't say 'quit,' I say leave in protest' — my husband and I talked about it and agreed that it would be a waste to do it quietly. There are going to be a lot of people who are going to leave the organization. If you just walk away, and don't say anything, then nothing happens."

Recently, some  Eagle Scout members have returned their badges over this issue; Weldon says she has heard some feel that they have earned the badges and intend to keep them.

She says, "If you leave, then work on it; if you stay, then work on it. I think that's the bottom line." 

The Boy Scouts' reaffirmed position was announced mid-July, shortly after Chick Fil-A President and CEO Dan Cathy commented he was "guilty as charged" on the company's stance on gay marriage. In response to Cathy's comments, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino .

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