Re: Removing a leader
Mike Walton ("settummanque,)
Fri, 3 Oct 1997 12:38:23 -0500
Pat Heller came to all of us for some advice:
>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, even
>when asked about any medical problems at the time of application, which
>is when he had disclosed that he is a hemophiliac.
Do you *blame him*, Pat?? I can just *see* some of us around this
roundtable, bristling when they read the above paragraph. Some probably
read it over, especially the first sentence!
>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 went
>ballistic, to say the least. Those parents are now threatening to
>pull their kids from the Troop if the leader doesn't leave.
>The Troop called Council to find out what policy is, and were told that
>there isn't one
Risk Management at the BSA has been working on this issue for the past five
years. The situation above IS NOT UNIQUE, because other Councils have
worked through this issue. The advice given to local Councils from National
Risk Management has been "let the chartered partner handle it" because from
a "suing" point-of-view, the BSA cannot say "Scouters must be HIV-free in
order to accept a certificate of leadership". This brings up "testing",
which brings up "privacy issues", which brings up "gayness" which brings up
a rather still touchy-feely issue around local Councils and the national
The closest thing that Risk Management has come to siding one way or another
is from a safety point-of-view, giving local Councils guidance on medically
screening those that come in contact with kitchens within the Council's
camping operations that use "cafeteria-style" dining halls and in providing
barrier information (common-sense information) in providing first aid during
Scouting events or activities and during performace of first aid by Scouters
>...... and that the Troop would have to abide by what the sponsor wants.
>Not satisfied by the answer, they called the Council Executive, who told
>them the same exact thing. In other words, there is no support from
>Council on this issue.
For the reasoning I outlined above.
>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 what.
>The head of the sponsoring organization said to remove him because
>of his mental and physical difficulties, which, to say the least, cannot
>be done. No other support from the sponsor - in fact, they refuse to put
>anything in writing to the effect of " remove him ".
In order for the chartered partner organization to remove him they would
have to put it into writing and provide that information to the Council
Scout Executive. The Council Scout Executive, along with the head of the
chartered partner organization or a representative (usually a lawyer) would
then approach the Scouter, issue the Scouter a pro-rated check for the
amount of his fees and dues, and present him with the Letter of Removal. It
is the Council Scout Executive's responsibility to also put this Scouter
into the Regional "blacklist" (the "undesirables" listing that the BSA
publically says they do not maintain but they do maintain). This in effect,
bars his participation in Scouting for the rest of his life or until he can
prove to a Regional-level committee that he either has modified his actions
or can convince them that the Council/unit's decision is wrong.
The CE could "forget" to do this on purpose and allow this Scouter to
continue to serve Scouting within another unit or as a District or Council
Scouter. Depends on the personality of the Scouter involved.
Now, can you see why the local Council and the unit doesn't want to be a
party to this??? Can we say "60 Minutes" or "Impact"? Can we say "lawsuit"?
>Which leaves the Troop in quite a quandry...... No support from Council,
>no support from the sponsor, sue-happy parents, parents of boys ready >to
leave, the leader will not leave on his own, and takes no steps to >protect
those around him ( i.e., a bloodborne pathogen kit, etc. ).
So, the REAL question is "how do we get this Scouter to conform and to
protect himself and all of us from his illness (the CDC defines HIV as an
illness, not a disease, right)???
*Start with a frank, honest and open discussion with this Scouter and his
parents. At this meeting should be the head of the chartering organization,
the entire Committee, the Scoutmaster and the Senior Patrol Leader. DO NOT
FORGET THAT THIS AFFECT THE YOUTH OF THE UNIT, and turn this into a
"adult-only" discussion. Explain your concerns to this Scouter and
explain that you want to keep him as a part of the unit if for nothing else
because "nothing has happened so far and you have been careful in what you
have been doing...so it's not that you don't care!"
Find out from this Scouter what HE sees his role in the Troop as. It could
be that he started out wanting to be an Assistant Scoutmaster, but in
reality he simply wanted to be on the Committee. This would eliminate him
from "active engagement with youth members".
*Educate EVERYONE on HIV and AIDS. This is a good time to invite the local
health department's senior nurse to come in and EXPLAIN that HIV is spread
by blood contact, by improper sexual behavior, and by sharing needles and
other drug accessories....all of which are inconsistant with being a Scout
or Scouter. Emphasize also that many people with HIV ARE NOT gay or
bisexual, do NOT engage in dangerous behaviors, and do NOT take drugs...they
received HIV through accidents, blood transfusions, and from being the child
of someone whom is HIV positive.
This is also a good time to emphasize how Scouts and Scouters can "save a
life" without endangering their own.
While Scouts may have received some of this from school, many parents
(including some of the more "ballistic" ones) have not...and associate HIV
with Gayness. The connection is NOT JUST A GAY CONNECTION.
*Once the first two parts have been done, and you are pretty satistfied with
the results, then it's time to actually ask this guy to agree IN WRITING as
to his behavior while serving as a Scouter with the unit. To be consistant,
you should have ALL of the adult leadership in your unit to sign the same
statement, because if you don't, you have his parents screaming
"discrimination!" instead of understanding that you are looking after the
youth of your unit...including your own children. Those statements should
be kept with the unit's charter and other important papers with the
Chartered Organizational Representative. After he has agreed and chooses
not to follow-thru, then you may have grounds to involve the Council Scout
Executive and have him to issue that dreadful letter!!
>This looks to be a no-win situation, and they desperately need advice.
I don't look at this as a "no-win" situation...I look at it instead as a
"win-win" situation. Why? Because everyone wins the way I've outlined it
above. The Scouts retain a leader that up until now (at least from what
you've wrote here) hasn't had a problem with, enjoys being around and
despite his parents' sue-happy ways, must be doing something right or else
he wouldn't be still around. The parents gets a written assurance, which
is the next best thing to "Scouts' Honor" we can expect to get, that the
Scouter will behave appropriately and will take means to protect himself and
other people from contracting HIV through blood-to-blood contact; the
chartered partner and the local Council don't have to appear on CNN's
"Impact" program or on "Primetime Live" and have Stephen Frazer or "Slammin'
Sam" Donaldson grilling them about "what's your policy handling this?" "If
this person has been doing Scouting things all of these months without
incident, what's the problem?" and related questions, which would tend to
cast a serious dark light on the unit, it's partner organization and the BSA
in general. Finally, everyone gets a real education into what HIV is, how
it is spread, what to do to prevent it, and they KNOW the risks...which is a
lot better than what you would encounter out in "the real world".
I worked, Pat, for a firm which had several developmentally disabled clients
whom were HIV-positive. During the first days of your hire, I filled out a
form which explained my risks. In that form, was the following statement:
"The (board of the organization) is committed to maintaining a safe and
healthy work environment for all employees. Consistant with this
committment, the (board of the organization) will treat AIDS and HIV the
same as any other life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer and heart
disease, in terms of employee policies and benefits, such as group health
and life insurance, leaves of absenses and pay, and any other benefits.
Employees who are effected by AIDS, AIDS-Related-Complex (ARC) and persons
with seropositive test results or any other life-threatning illness will be
treated with compassion and understanding and will be given support to the
full extent possible in dealing with their personal crisis."
One thing that I don't know about is the confidentiality issue involved
here. I don't know if by your local law, if medical information obtained
from Scouters (and Scouts, for that matter) are considered confidential
I hope that this, along with the great advice given to you from other
Scouters here, is of help to that unit. Like others that have already
posted, I too hope that they choose the "high road" instead of turning what
could be a great "Guided Discovery" into a terrible experience for everyone
involved...which is NOT the "Scouting way".
(c) 1997 Mike Walton ("no such thing as strong coffee,...") (502) 827-9201
(settummanque, the blackeagle) http://dynasty.net/users/blkeagle
241 Fairview Dr., Henderson, KY 42420-4339 email@example.com
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