scouts-l Mail Archive for March of 2000: Banned Individuals - longish
Neil Lupton (NeilLup@AOL.COM
Wed Mar 22 2000 - 10:48:16 CST
In response to the thread about individuals banned from registration, I
cannot comment on the information Mike Walton has provided since, as a former
member of the professional service, he has some "inside" info. However, I do
know that while the Council Executive does have very broad authority within
his council, he does work for the volunteers. The Scout Exec is hired and
fired by the Executive Board.
I do know that by virtue of the job which I now hold (Council Commissioner),
I consider it to be part of my responsibilities to interface between the
council's professional staff and the volunteers of the council. If an
individual in my council had been placed on the ineligible to register list
and convinced me that they truly did not know why, I would speak with our
Scout Executive about it and I would expect some answers. I might or might
not be able to share those answers with the individual in question, but I
would consider it my duty to see that what had been done was fair and proper.
I believe that as part of the official procedure, the SE is required to
inform the Council President of the action contemplated, so there is, I
believe, some volunteer involvement.
I have been involved in counseling with our SE and Council President in some
of these actions and I know that in some cases, individuals can appear to
outsiders to be "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm" while when full facts are
considered and laid on the table, their actions are remarkably
inappropriate. I have seen some of these actions justified as "protecting
my family" and the individual feel that they had full moral force on their
side because of a real or imagined slight. It simply became the case that it
was better for all parties that the "combatants" be separated and each
allowed to go their own way.
This can also cut both ways. At one time, I was planning to nominate an
individual for a high Scouting honor and my SE asked "Please hold off. I
just have a bad feeling about this guy." I did and six months later, the
man was hauled off in chains by the FBI for child abuse across state lines.
Did the SE have inside knowledge? I don't know but he sure saved me from
looking like a boob.
There has also been discussion about ineligible to register individuals
continuing to participate in Scouting. Recently, I was in a training
session attended by several SEs plus Regional personnel. It was said that
while avowed gays and lesbians were ineligible to register, if they were
parents, they were welcome to participate "as parents." No one disagreed.
I will leave to the experts what the liability insurance situation would be
in this case. I believe that the BSA insurance covers registered leaders
and members and those who, in good faith, are contemplating joining the BSA.
I have no idea what would be the case for individuals who are not allowed to
It is personally regrettable, albeit probably understandable and proper, that
in these cases the rights of the accused can take second place. If a
teacher is accused of child abuse or other inappropriate action, they most
likely are suspended, with pay, and excluded from teaching or work in school
while the investigation is ongoing. Our situation in the BSA is similar, it
is just that because we are unpaid volunteers, being suspended with pay has
no meaning. We simply are suspended until matters are resolved.
Considering the risk to all concerned if the accused individual were not
suspended during investigation and inappropriate actions continued, the
suspension is probably the most proper action.
So to individuals who believe that they or colleagues have been treated
unfairly by the BSA and also believe that the SE has acted unfairly and is
"stonewalling", I can only suggest that they contact one of the top volunteer
officials in the council, privately and quietly, and ask to discuss the
matter to clarify reasons and rationale. Expect, of course, that the
volunteer will discuss the matter with the SE, possibly in advance. The SE
might ask the volunteer not to discuss things, although I would hope not.
The SE may also have information which he believe is sufficient to justify
exclusion but which might not meet the standards of evidence necessary in a
court of law and so, for many reasons, wish not to have matters move to a
court fight. The individual should also consider the facts, as they know
them, as negatively as possible from their personal point of view and ask
whether they really want those facts to come out. There are very good
reasons why the BSA's procedures are private and personal and involve very,
very limited dissemination of negative information.
While I can only speak for my own council and for procedures in my region
(Northeast), I do know enough senior volunteers from other councils in all
parts of the country to know that they take their responsibilities very
seriously. It is too difficult to recruit and maintain good volunteers
trivially to exclude anyone from participation and registration.