scouts-l Mail Archive for November of 1999: Re: Arrow of Light
MAJ) Mike Walton (settummanque, the blackeagle (blackeagle@SCOUTER.NET
Sat Nov 20 1999 - 22:45:46 CST
Bruce and I have disagreed on several issues dealing with Scouting, but this
one is one we both do agree on 100 percent:
Bruce replied to Robert Reeder earlier:
>> Let me get this straight. National has determined that a boy who has
>> received the AOL, or is 10.5, or has completed the 5th grade can join
>> boy scouts. However, if the wisdom of the local troop (who has the
>> ability to determine what is in the best interest of the boy) is that
>> the boy isn't mature enough to join, the application is denied? Did I
>> hear this right?
>You heard it exactly correctly because NO unit is REQUIRED to accept any
>particular application. There is absolutely NO right to be a member of the
>organization or of a particular unit within the organization. A chartered
>organization can, for example, limit its membership to its members. Or, it
>can decide that it does not feel a particular youth is mature enough to join.
I would like to take Bruce's comments just a little bit further, Robert:
A chartered organization (not really the unit) can restrict the membership
of a unit to families of their faith, community, school, church, military
unit, or labor unit. A chartered organization can refuse membership to
anyone who do not meet that "requirement for membership" as long as they are
not being racially or (in the case of adults) sexually discriminating. For
instance, a unit chartered to a Catholic church can indeed restrict its
membership to those of the Roman Catholic faith residing in Wobegon Heights,
Kentucky; while at the same time opening the unit to black, white and
Hispanic members of that community. Likewise, a Troop chartered to a school
PTO in Bern, Kentucky, can restrict membership of that Troop to those
families residing in the school zone (where they draw their students from).
If the school zone happen to be 100 percent white, that's something that the
residents and others will have to deal with; but if a black family resides
in that zone and they want to place their child in that Troop, the
leadership of that Troop is obligated to provide membership to that child.
That's what they agreed to when they chartered the Troop.
My favorite example of this (which I'm going to have to find a new example
for, now that "contemporary Exploring" will be history in about 45 days or
so) is when we had Law Enforcement Explorer posts as part of the BSA. Each
unit set up their own "requirements for entry" which included a National
Criminal Information Center (NCIC) records check, fingerprinting, and
photograph -- just like regular officers. Those individuals with a police
record or those individuals refusing to participate didn't become members of
the Post. Simple as that. And different Posts could offer different
"requirements" -- for instance one Post can say "no criminal record period"
and another Post down the road can say "no crimes in which a jail time or
My second favorite example of this fact is from my own personal background.
When I was growing up at Fort Knox, Kentucky, each of the installation's 12
hosuing areas had a Scout Troop and Cub Scout Pack. The chartering partners
were a miltary unit or command or the "friends of" that unit or command.
You joined the Troop corresponding to your housing area. This was unfair,
because the largest Troop (127) also had the largest housing area (Van
Voorhis Manor, which had at one time close to 5000 residents); it also had
the "best chartered partner" in the hospital on base (doctors, nurses, "high
money", you know...). But no matter where you lived in that housing area,
if you wanted to become a Cub Scout or Scout, you became a member of 127.
As the number of Troops and Packs slimmed and were consoldated (or folded),
that "rule" went away (by 1974 the 12 were down to seven; by 1976 it was
down to four). The only exception was that if your a LDS member, you could
choose to be a member of a "regular Troop" or a member of the Stake's Pack,
Troop, and later Team (667).
Unfair, yes...in both cases. Discriminatory? No.
Bruce continued to explain to Bob Reeder:
>> Let me take it a step further. Are you then saying that it is possible
>> for a 15 year old boy, who wants to join, but is ________ (you fill in
>> the blank) to be turned down because the almighty troop leadership feels
>> that it is in the best interest of the boy?
>That is also absolutely correct. You can refuse to let a boy join and you can
>throw a boy out who you don't feel is meeting the rules of the chartered
>organization, is causing problems, isn't paying dues, etc. This is what ALL
>the lawsuits are about. The BSA is a private organization and nobody has a
>right to membership. That extends down to the unit level. A unit can choose
>to admit or exclude any youth or adult it wants and it is not even required to
>provide a reason. You may not like it, but that is the way this organization
Yep. This is covered under the BSA's "standards for maintaining membership"
which was in place back in the 50s but didn't come to light until the early 90s.
Bruce hit on something in his explaination that I want to bring home by
offering my "standard spiel" on this matter:
The BSA can admit and remove ANYONE at ANYTIME for ANY REASON and does NOT
have to explain that reasoning to anyone except themselves. We are all in
the BSA "at will" -- ours and theirs -- and all it takes it for that
admission or removal is a chartered organization in the case of unit
Scouters and members or a Council Scout Executive in the case of all other
Scouters and members. It's simple as that. Until courts can prove
otherwise that the BSA is a "public accomodation", that's the way it works:
the BSA through the local Council and their partner organizations, can
dictate who will and will not become members. Period.
The reference is the BSA's publication called "Maintaining Standards of
Membership" which is a restricted publication but portions of it are
contained within the Scout Executive's Manual and the BSA Administration of
Scouting manuals, both which can be reviewed at the local Council office.
And as Bruce mentioned, this is the basis for ALL of the recent court action
against the BSA in all cases....the BSA asserting its rights as a private
organization and others are asserting their rights as American citizens to
petition and convince our government otherwise.
Robert Reeder responded:
>> I can hear the cries of racism, bigotry, and everything else as I
>> contemplate what can happen with such an attitude within troop
Yep. And such cries have been made in the past, which is one of the reasons
why the BSA has been hot on this kick to insure that units have
Commissioners to "look out" for things like this; and for each District to
be covered by at least one field executive per number of units in the
District. Additionally, this is one of those things that gets talked about
a lot in some circles: "How can they refuse my son?"
My response has always been "If they don't want your son, you have three
options. Forget about Scouting (not a good choice at all), go to another
unit (always a good choice) or start your own unit (definately the best
choice) to insure that the program is what you and those other parents and
youth want it to be like."
This is how the BSA grew in the 50s and 60s....as the number of units
increased, the demands for community-based units also increased and pretty
soon, every community had their own Pack and Troop and in some cases Post or
Ship. It was a "family of units in a community of families" to coin one of
the BSA's slogans back then.
Finally, Bruce commented to Robert:
>> If I ever
>> encountered such a scenario as what is being advocated (turning away a
>> boy because it is in the boys best interests) you can bet I would be on
>> the phone with the DE and the SE. And I can assure you that others
>> would have their lawyers calling the DE and SE.
>And what the DE and SE should be telling them is that it is up to the unit
>whether to accept the application or not.
And a GOOD Scout Executive will sit down with you and anyone else concerned
and explain it in clear black and white that the BSA and its chartered
organizations can and do exercise a degree of "discrimination" with regard
to membership and leadership and it should be that way. Otherwise, we just
might as well toss youth protection right out the window, followed by the
agreement between the chartered organization and the local Council,
representing the BSA which starts out by stating "we agree to charter and
operate (name of unit) according to our needs and that of our community and
in full agreement with the Charter and Bylaws of the (name of Council) and
the Charter and Bylaws and Rules and Regulations of the Boy Scouts of
America." (this was from a paper which is NOT a contract, but which
outlines what the local Council and the chartered organization are
"responsible for." Not all Councils use this or something like it...)
Just like not anyone can show up at a doorstep and immediately become a
Scouting volunteer, not anyone can show up at a doorstep and immediately
become a Scouting member. If the individual has problems or concerns which
the unit can not address or want to deal with, the individual has to find
another unit (or start one) which will address those needs and concerns.
(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (settummanque, the blackeagle)
personal inquiries via email@example.com,
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