Woman had participated in Scouts for over six years
A Virginia mother who volunteered for her son’s Boy Scouts troop for six years says she’s been asked not to participate any longer because she is a lesbian.
Denise Steele of Loudoun County had stepped up to be the den leader for her son Jackson’s Boy Scouts at his elementary school when no other parent volunteered. The troop reportedly went on under Steele’s leadership to earn numerous badges, and even receiving an award from the Boy Scouts five years in a row.
But that all changed when it came to light that Steele was a lesbian and had been living with another woman for more than 19 years, reports the Loudoun Times. Steele and her partner, Jackie Funk, have two children, Jackson, 12, and Jaden, 9. They also are taking care of Steele’s 10-year-old nephew, Will.
Funk told the paper that other troop leaders respected Steele, and that “some of the guys would come down and ask her advice.”
The trouble arose when Steele’s son moved from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts, with the new troop being backed by a different charter group, a conservative Christian church.
The pastor of the Christian Fellowship Church, Phil Holliday, says his hands are tied and that the church is simply following the Boy Scout charter agreement they had signed, which indicates that “open homosexuality is inconsistent with the values” of the Boy Scouts of America.
Steele reportedly told the scout master that she was in a longtime lesbian relationship, and he indicated it would not be a problem. But after a recent camping trip, an assistant scout master grew suspicious when he noticed Funk picking up Steele, and after discovering their situation, decided to report her to the Boy Scouts.
A representative for the Boys Scouts of America told the paper via email, “The [Boy Scouts of America] recognizes that some do not agree with its position on this issue, but values the freedom of everyone to express their opinion and teaches its members to use courtesy and respect at all times.”
The Boy Scouts of America have repeatedly come under fire for its stance on homosexuality, and its religious underpinnings. The outcome of several lawsuits has upheld the Boy Scouts rights as a private organization to be discriminatory in its membership.
Funk indicated that despite the treatment of Steele, Jackson will remain in the Boy Scouts and one day hopes to become an Eagle Scout.