This story was updated at 12:45 p.m. Feb. 20.
When Colesville’s Cub Scout Pack 442 posted a non-discrimination statement on its website welcoming all families, Pack Committee Chair Theresa Phillips said she knew there was a “possibility” that the Pack could lose its charter.
After waiting nearly a month for word from the National Capital Area Council, the Pack has been rechartered through January 2014, according to an email Tuesday night from Walt McKee, district director for the National Capital Area Council for Boy Scouts of America.
The space that once read Pack 442 would not “discriminate against any individual or family based on race, religion, national origin, ability, or sexual orientation” now reads: “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).”
Phillips said the Pack got a majority vote from the Pack membership and approval from the local Lion’s Club chapter before posting the original non-discrimination statement. She said the original statement was on their website for three months before the council approached them. But when they brought an amended version to the council for approval, the council asked them to take down the statement entirely, Phillips said.
“[The council] has us backed into a corner. It’s basically ‘conform or you won’t be re-chartered,’” Phillips said. “...When we were first ... told we were allowed to leave the statement up on the website back in September, they told us that although they weren’t happy with it, it was a freedom of speech issue.”
Aaron Chusid, communications director for the Council, told The Gazette Feb. 11 that Pack 442 did submit their request for renewal, but that there may be a delay in response from the council because of how many charter renewal applications they receive.
But to secure the future of the Pack, Phillips said the group had first amended their statement to align more with the views of the BSA’s views, as per request of the National Capital Area Council. Once they brought their revised statement to the council, the council instead insisted that the group entirely take down their statement, Phillips said.
Phillips, whose 11-year-old son, Tyler, is a part of the Pack, said her family commits a lot of personal and family time to make the scouting program a great one for the kids. She and the other supporting members of the pack thought the statement against discrimination was an important one to make.
“The statement was initiated by me in response to [BSA] coming out with a statement last July reaffirming their ban,” Phillips said. “We were rethinking having our son in scouting — rethinking being scout leaders. ... This is not what we want to teach our son.” Phillips said the Pack’s enrollment has not be effected by the statement or lack thereof. She said they love the scouting program just like everyone else in other packs across the country, but that she has a problem with the Boy Scouts ban on openly gay members and troop leaders.
The Boy Scouts were expected to vote on lifting its ban Feb. 6, but delayed their decision to their annual meeting in May.
Phillips told The Gazette in an email Feb. 6 that it was “disappointing” that the organization “caved to the pressure” of organizations such as the Family Research Council and other “ultra-conservative supporters” of Boy Scouts.
“The BSA needs to wake up and realize gay/lesbians have just as much of a right to be part of the scouting program as anyone else or BSA will continue to segregate themselves from America and lose the membership of so many worthy and dedicated individuals,” Phillips’ email read.