Boy Scout policy on gay leaders moves 9-year-old to quit

MINOT — Christopher Tiner's Cub Scout badges and belt buckles still have a place of honor in his living room. But it was honor — and a bit of the 9-year-old's boredom with Scouting — that led him to quit.

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Christopher Tiner, 9, of Minot quit Cub Scouts because of the Boy Scouts of America's prohibition on openly gay Scout leaders. "I didn't think it was fair," said the former Pack 139 Scout. He won a trophy at the Pinewood Derby in March.

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Christopher Tiner has earned numerous belt buckles from accomplishments in Cub Scouts. 

"I didn't like it that they were kicking people out," Christopher said. "I don't think it's fair."

He saw national news stories about Eagle Scouts giving back their medals since the national organization reaffirmed its stance barring people who are openly gay from participating as Scouts or serving as leaders.

Christopher thought about the camping trips and the wooden cars he'd made, his trophies and his badges. In the end, the good stuff wasn't good enough to outweigh his growing restlessness with the Scouts or its decision.

"He could make his own decision about it," said Scott Tiner, Christopher's father.

In the end, the decision was easy, Christopher said. The Scouts had soured for him. He had stuff to do with his friends, anyway.

Does he regret the decision?

"No," Christopher said.

However, the move has made him special. No other current Scout in Maine has quit over the gay issue since the Boy Scouts of America announced the results in July of a two-year study, suggesting no change in the U.S. Supreme Court-tested policy.

Eric Tarbox, who serves as executive of the Boy Scouts' Portland-based Pine Tree Council, said he had heard few complaints since he came on the job two months ago.

In that time, he had been contacted about 10 times on the issue, he said. About of those people half complained, he said. The other half praised the Boy Scouts of America.

As the issue stands, neither Scouts nor leaders are asked if they are gay. However, anyone who is an open and avowed homosexual cannot belong, according to the rules in the national charter.

All councils, including Maine's two, Pine Tree and Katahdin, must follow the charter.

"We believe that we're not equipped, nor is it in our current education program, to discuss matters of sexuality, heterosexuality, homosexuality or any kind of sexuality with our children because they're minors and we don't have any training regimen," said Tarbox, whose council includes 10 Maine counties from Jackman to Portland.

"We don't have ways that we equip den leaders and Scout masters to discuss these issues, nor would we want to have them do that," he said. "We believe that parents are the ones who should choose the time and the context in which to address with their children matters of a sexual nature."

Marshall Steinmann, who represents the Katahdin Council, which includes the eastern half of Maine, said he, too, had heard complaints.

"We believe that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to accomplish shared objectives," he said. "Our role is to equip young people with life skills so one day they can make their own wise decisions."

Ed Desgrosseilliers of Auburn, who served as the Scouts' volunteer district chairman in Androscoggin and Oxford counties for the past two years, said it's an issue that's clouded in bias.

"I think that, unfortunately, the people who are on the national board are misinformed or misdirected with regard to sexuality and think that somehow leads to pedophilia," he said. He separated with the Scouts about two weeks ago on an unrelated issue. The Scouts is a private organization and it has the right to set its own policies, he said.

"As a leader, I looked for people who are good people who want to do things for youngsters," Desgrosseilliers said. He worked to keep them safe from abusers, whether they were gay or straight. The national organization has youth protection programs that help leaders, and most do a good job, he said.

Tarbox boiled down the gay issue to sexual advocacy of any kind, following other Scout councils in broadening its rules.

"It doesn't matter what adults choose to do," he said. "Advocating it is inappropriate, and we have a zero-tolerance policy for it. Period. So, frankly, it doesn't matter what you are. We don't want to know. It's simply inappropriate, any of it."

Someone might even be gay and lead a troop or a pack, as long as his or her sexual identity is never raised, he said.

"We don't have a form that someone fills out," Tarbox said. "We don't say, 'What are you? What kind of sexuality do you believe in?' We don't proactively inquire, anyway."

That's not enough, said Scott Tiner, Christopher's dad.

Though he led Scouts for years, he said he was saddened by the Boy Scouts of America's reaffirmation.

"When that happened, it seemed like they were never going to change this policy," he said. He said he likes many of the leaders — "they're all great people" — and thinks the programs have helped his son and others.

But in the end, he, too, left the group.

"I don't want to have a membership card to an organization that makes it very clear that this is how they feel," he said.

dhartill@sunjournal

Staff Writer Lindsay Tice contributed to this report.

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Comments

MEGAN PARKS's picture

I think ...

I think we should ban ugly people from getting married. The trend of teaching children to be accepting of all people is way out of line.... no one likes ugly people anyway, right? Every year they allow ugly kids to be on the same sports teams as my kids. It is ridiculous, those kids might turn my kids ugly too! Sports teams, and the boy scouts should all ban ugly people!

Research and scientific studies have proven that ugly people are less likely to be productive members of society, and less successful in romance and professionally, so why would we want to allow them to get married anyway? They will just reproduce and create more ugly people, and then we are all doomed!

MEGAN PARKS's picture

And don't even get me started

And don't even get me started on ugly T-ball coaches!!! They should be put to death! What message are we sending our children? That it is okay to be ugly?!?!?!!?!? Appalling!

MEGAN PARKS's picture

(end sarcasm)

=)

 's picture

To Danny....you don't feel

To Danny....you don't feel you are anti-gay.....but every thing in your comment is against gay everything! And to you, Mike...I have some pretty darn high morals, I'm not judgmental, which you obviously are, I'm not prejudice and I believe we are all God's children. I live my life no different then you do!! I get up every day, have my morning coffee,read the paper,I'm disabled so I don't work, but my partner kisses me goodbye before she leaves for work. We clean the house, she works in the yard,drives a car, we love each other...we respect each other and other people. I love my parents and siblings and they love me. Yup, I've got some good morals and I don't live my life any differently then you "normal" folks!!!

Mike Aldrich's picture

Kudos to the boy scouts for

Kudos to the boy scouts for taking a stand for integrity, righteousness and the fear of the Lord. They want kids with high moral values and gays do not qualify.

DANNY FITZSIMMONS's picture

A vote for gay marrige

A vote for gay marriage is a vote for teaching homosexual behavior in schools, forcing groups like the Boy Scouts to succumb to Gay influence, as they are already in the process of doing. They have already introduced books to children in elementary classes in areas who have such policy and are currently trying to widen such activities even though they deny this during the referendum. I am also sure this story is actually rooted in this Childs family teachings and/or behavior. I am sure the media did not go to the boy scouts to find a child who quit (there are hundreds every year) then ask each one why, no I think the family brought this to the attention of the paper either through direct involvement or through persuasion. Marriage is a religious act and should not be interfered with by any state or federal order, if they want Civil Unions then that I would not object to, however given their track record of trying to force gay marriage down our troths through referendum after referendum I find that we will see in the future gays suing the clergy for not allowing them the right to be married in the church of their choice THIS WILL HAPPEN of that I am sure of. I am not anti-gay nor do I think they should be discriminated against for housing, employment, and such other things but marriage sorry I VOTE NO! Or is it Yes oh let’s try to change the wording, to best change the outcome, sound familiar .

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