Re: Removing a leader
Steven G. Tyler (sgtyler@EROLS.COM)
Thu, 2 Oct 1997 11:31:11 -0400
Need advice? Sure:
Let's recap: the unit was approached by an individual with physical
limitations, including disclosed hemophilia and undisclosed HIV+. The
Scouter has (presumably) served acceptably since then.
Now, his HIV+ status has been discovered (you didn't say how this
information came to light -- could be a story there, too), and,
"needless to say," at least some of the other Scouters and parents are
Stop there for a moment.
Why are they ballistic? Is it just because the Scouter did not
voluntarily disclose (even when more or less directly asked) his status,
or is it merely the fact that he is HIV+? If the former, the "advice"
is simple and straightforward: the Troop leadership needs to sit down
with this Scouter, get an acknowledgment from him of his omission or
deception, and work out a plan to accommodate his condition. That plan
may include limitations on what activities he can participate in,
protective measures and protocols to be implemented, and education of
all those who need to know his status (which, at a guess, would be all
of the Scouts and Scouters, and probably the parents as well).
However, without knowing the persons involved at all, I'd bet, from your
post, that it is the latter reaction that is driving the urgency of your
request, and I will so assume.
First, your post leaves me very sad. I thought most of this reaction had
played itself out several years ago, and that most people had achieved a
level of understanding (if not true comfort) about the HIV+ amongst us
(but then again, I do tend to think better of my fellows than experience
would counsel), especially now that HIV+ is no longer necessarily a
death sentence. Sure, as a parent I can understand the desire to keep my
kids as far away from the potential for life-threatening illness, but
let's face it, there's no place to run, no place to hide, and in any
event, there's no "stoning the leper" merit badge.
My advice? What is needed, IMHO, is a measure of empathy and
compassion, coupled with a hard-headed pragmatism, to develop a plan to
permit this Scouter to REMAIN in the unit. Oh, sure, you can prattle
about his dishonesty -- but given the evident reaction, can you really
blame him for trying to avoid the irrational prejudices of others, as
your unit has so clearly demonstrated still exists?
My $.02? It does not surprise me (although I am a bit saddened) that BSA
does not have a "policy" that would encourage units to chuck an HIV+
Scouter, nor, from what you say, a policy supporting HIV+ Scouts and
Scouters. Nor am I surprised that the charter organization is weaseling
as well, asking that you clean up the situation by dumping the Scouter,
without even the decency to put its request in writing. While I have
little sympathy for those who abuse the legal system with frivolous
suits, it is exactly this combination of prejudice and cowardice that
makes me glad there is a court system available to put the "fear of God"
in those who try to find a way to not do the right thing.
Patrick, no offense intended, but your unit either needs to decide to
support this Scouter, make a reasonable plan, and help those struggling
with the issues presented, or it can join those scuttling about, looking
for a way to ditch this Scouter without being held accountable. Not an
easy choice, but an obvious one if you and your unit gives more than lip
service to the principles of Scouting. I hope you make the right choice.
Steve on Cattail Creek
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City