Posted by Liam O'Kennedy October 11, 2012 07:00 PM
At a committee meeting last month, Beverly Cubmaster Tony Gangi asked the 11 fellow leaders of Cub Scout Pack 4 to join him in denouncing the Boy Scouts’ ban on gays.
Gangi, who took over as Cubmaster in January and leads a pack of about 45 boys that includes his nine-year-old son Shaffer, said he felt he needed to take a stand in order to teach his son to live with honesty and compassion.
“I have friends who are gay and I wanted to be able to say to them, ‘Yes, I am standing up for you,’” Gangi said.
He knew there could be backlash if the pack dissented publicly.
“All of us went into this fully aware that we could be asked to step down as leaders and [Boy Scouts of America] could pull our charter and dissolve the pack,” Gangi said.
But Pack 4’s decision to reject the longstanding policy, upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000 and reaffirmed in July after a two-year evaluation by a specially appointed committee, was unanimous. And Gangi had no intention of keeping the protest quiet.
“The National Policy as it stands now seems to fly in the face of the very values found at the heart of scouting,” Gangi wrote in a statement issued Oct. 9. “We have been and will always be open and affirming, and will never turn our backs on a child or adult that seeks to embrace the core values found at the heart of scouting.”
When Pack 4 den leader Randy Reinbold told his son, Daniel, that the Boy Scouts do not allow openly gay members, the nine-year-old immediately urged his father to take action.
“He responded, ‘That’s not fair. We need to do something about that. We need to take a stand and write a letter to the newspaper,” Reinbold said.
The leaders and scouts of Pack 4 are not alone in speaking out about the Boy Scouts membership policy: Cub Scout packs in Marblehead and Framingham, and Boy Scout troops in Amherst and Hatfield, have also issued policies of nondiscrimination or publicly rejected the policy.
Thirty-eight parents of children in Cub Scout Pack 12 in Framingham signed a letter that was sent to the leaders of the Knox Trail Council Sept. 10 expressing their disappointment with the policy and vowing to disregard it in favor of an atmosphere of non-discrimination.
"Pack 12 has taught us that being a scout means being inclusive, supportive, and standing up for what you believe in," the letter reads. "We do not and never will discriminate on the basis of race, religion or sexual orientation."