Re: Removing a leader (long...sorry)
Doug Roach (djroach@IX.NETCOM.COM)
Sat, 4 Oct 1997 01:14:43 -0400
Patrick J Heller wrote:
> A local Troop took on a leader who they knew, at the time of
> is mentally challenged and has physical limitations. No further
> information was provided to the unit, other than the leader is a
It would be helpful to know what the extent of his mental and physical
disabilities are. That would go a long way toward determining what his
role could be in the Troop.
> The doctor returned an opinion of no camping due to his limitations,
Sounds pretty straightforward here... no camping for this person. To
allow him to go camping after you've been made aware of his doctor's
opinion would be irresponsible.
> The leader is HIV +, and has been for several years. He knew he was
> HIV + when he applied to become a leader, but did not disclose it,
> when asked about any medical problems at the time of application,
> is when he had disclosed that he is a hemophiliac.
The only real concern I have here is that he did NOT (apparently) let
anyone in the unit know of his HIV condition. I believe most states are
like Florida in that HIV+ people can legally keep that information
confidential. I have no problem with that, but I think the nature of
Scout activity and it's potential for minor bleeding injuries (hiking,
camping, games, fires, knives, etc.) should have impelled this guy to at
least tell the Scoutmaster of his condition.
> Needless to say, the HIV +/Hemophiliac combo had the leaders very
> concerned. There are several parents on their committee, and when
> they found out ( due to discussion as to how to handle this ), they
> ballistic, to say the least. Those parents are now threatening to
> pull their kids from the Troop if the leader doesn't leave.
What an opportunity to do your Scouts AND their parents a tremendous
service and devote at least a full meeting to a presentation by some
local pros on the nature of HIV, it's mode of transmission and how to
cope with it in a first aid situation. Your local community hospital,
the Red Cross, EMT crews, a nearby military facility... all these people
have someone who is qualified and eager to meet with groups like yours
and give lectures, demonstrations, literature, and whatever is required
in order to educate your group on the true nature of HIV. The
overwrought reaction of the few parents you mention is evidence enough
that you should schedule this as soon as possible. I don't think it's a
good idea to advise the Troop generally of this individual's HIV status.
If HE chooses to do so, that's his business.It's also a good time to be
CERTAIN that the Troop first aid kit is up to speed with adequate
barrier protection devices. Many are not.
> The Troop then went to the sponsor and asked " What do we do? ". The
> head of the sponsoring organization said to remove him, no matter
> The head of the sponsoring organization said to remove him because
> of his mental and physical difficulties, which, to say the least,
> be done.
THIS appears to be a problem that most respondents to this thread seem
to have missed.While the head of the sponsoring organization does not
run the Troop, it IS imperative that the Troop respond in some way to
this demand. Will he be satisfied with the individual being kept in a
relatively low-risk position?
> The final fly in the ointment is that the parents of this leader have
> sued, multiple times, in different situations involving the leader. It
> is the
> general consensus of those involved in the Troop Committee and
> Leadership that they'll sue them in the drop of a hat.
This is unfortunately the case with too many parents whose children are
disabled. In their zeal to have their child NOT be denied anything that
non-disabled people have access to, they sometimes fail to understand
that the disability itself puts their child in danger in certain
circumstances. For example, they may scream that their son cannot be
denied camping since it is such a vital part of the Scouting program.
Have they or he informed ANYONE in the Troop about how to administer his
clotting factor? Forget the HIV, this guy has hemophilia and could bleed
to death if his "mental disability" prevents proper administration of
his Hemo medication. Does he do it himself, or does mom do it for him?
What happens on a Troop outing if he is unable to give himself his
meds?(And when you're around the parents... keep your hat firmly on your
> the leader takes no steps to protect those
> around him ( i.e., a bloodborne pathogen kit, etc. ).
He and his parents should be made aware of the several points in the
Scout Law that this attitude violates. Do the parents condone this
irresponsible behavior? Are THEY aware of the potential risk to others
that this lack of responsibility poses? Of course they should be, and
therefore should also be willing to hold the Troop harmless (and enter
into a legal agreement to this effect) in the event there is an incident
of infection. Just the presentation of such a document alone may be
enough to have them look elsewhere for a more appropriate venue for
their son to perform his community service.
> The Troop Committee and Leadership feel that this leader is an
> danger to the boys - if this leader cuts himself in any way, the boys
> could be exposed to HIV
In my opinion (and that of the pros in this area that I know...including
the one who sleeps next to me) this is not a valid statement. People who
are HIV+ are NOT an "imminent danger" to the rest of the populace.
Everyone on this list may very well come into contact with HIV+ people
routinely and never know it. The danger lies in ignorance. Of COURSE HIV
and AIDS (not the same thing, by the way) should be a concern to all of
us. But we need not fear it. What is necessary to conquer this
irrational fear is the education of the Troop and the Scout parents.
This should be done no matter WHAT is decided about the leaders' future
with the Troop.
Exhibit some courage and become an example of the Scout Oath & Law.
Welcome the new leader into a specific role that reduces the threat of
injury to himself and to the Scouts. And how about this for a wacko
suggestion...Get his parents on board as Troop leaders. They sound like
they could benefit from our program as much as anyone.
THAT SAID......I'm sure glad such a scenario hasn't appeared here yet.
God help your group with their decision.
SA Troop 10 - South Florida Council - Miami
http://www.action-net.net/T10 (ya'll come visit)
"Got to keep the loonies on the Path..."
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City