Institutional bigotry just got personal.

Griffin - 072512

I am pretty torn up over the news that a friend (and a model I've photographed) was fired from being a Boy Scout camp counselor for being gay.   I do not have the full story and have not talked with Griffin about the ordeal, so I wont comment on the specifics of the incident.  His firing (and that 10 of his colleagues quit in protest) though made it into the Sacramento Bee newspaper.  Here is a link to that article. 

Hey Griffin - Good luck in your struggle. 


  1. It's always a tough thing with the gay vs the institution called the Boy Scouts. The public sees them as a public institution and they see themselves as a private one. Many private places are put under pressure to change their thinking by the fact they, knowingly or unknowingly solicit public opinion.

    Augusta National is one. They hold a very public tournament called the Masters which has nothing to do with their membership or how they run their their otherwise very private golf course. This fact has opened the door for a public outcry about the fact that they continue to exclude women as members. If they didn't hold the Masters each year I doubt anyone would care.

    Not to get into the lengthy legal discussions surrounding them. To put it simply the Boy Scouts have a somewhat similar problem.

    While they get no direct government support. They openly solicit membership from the general public and get volunteers and support from the general public, some coming indirectly through public agencies. So the public sees them as a public entity. Yet they consider themselves a private organization with the ability to make their own policies in respect with how they are run.

    Where I see your young friends mistake is deciding to make a statement in an arena that he couldn't win. Not knowing this young man as you do. I have a feeling since this was to be his last summer; he may have decided to go out with his gay pride showing. But he opened a door he couldn't close when, according to the article, he disregarded their instructions about proper dress - not wearing earrings and nail polish. Even though he may have worn them in past years. They have tradition and a rule book that they have taken to court more than once on their side. What other behavior problems that seemed to have happen may also been him opening up more as a gay man that he had suppressed in earlier years. This may be what brought on the added attention of the local scout leadership this year. But these would probably have been hard to fire him over. But a flagrant disregard for instructions to follow the rules and tradition is an easy one and allows them to side step the open gay bashing taint of the firing.

    I also have a feeling it was seen as a victory of sorts by him that half the staff resigned in a show of support. I hope he really appreciates the emotional, but probably not well thought out, response of his co-workers. I have to say I have sympathy for the guy and all gays in their struggles for the equality they deserve, but I would not have resigned a paying job in support of his decision.

    This is an old fight for the Scouts and this small incident was hardly a blip on their do we care about the reaction radar. They all slept well that night feeling they had defended the Scouts code. The other 10 were considered collateral damage that they have dealt with before.

    To use a favorite quote of mine - the only thing you have to do is die, everything else is choices with consequences.

    While I know little about the struggles of being gay. I fought many a skirmish against the rigidity if the U.S. military for four years and succeeded in getting out with an honorable discharge by learning when I could push and when I had to step back. So hopefully young Griffin has learned something from his choices with the Scouts and gained some experience on where and how to choose his fight so the consequences are more in his favor.

    D.L. Wood

    1. D.L. - Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I agree that Tim holds some responsibility for how this played out. First - As you mentioned, the BSA is a private organization, even though it has the feel of a military organization (uniforms, badges, ranks, etc.) and feels very public. Second - As you also mentioned, a dress code is a dress code. They may suck, but if you take the paycheck, you have to accept it.

      While I acknowledge the rights of private organizations, it doesn't stop me in the thinking they are bigoted. Let's say I had a youth group similar to the BSA. All youth boys between certain ages are welcome*
      *except for Christians, left handed people, and those with nut allergies. This may seem ridiculous, but it is still bigoted.

      I don't think the BSA is going to change. It is taking sides on a vary partisan and divided issue and has strong voices yelling at it, yet also strong voices yelling for it. In ways it is like the Chick-fill-A controversy. Numbers of people are boycotting it and numbers are supporting it. In the end, the cultural divide widens and the culture wars are heating up.

      On a personal note, Griffin's firing bothers me because he is a friend and is a gentle and caring young man. I think he is a good role model. That is why I am saddened by this.

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  3. Karl, is a gay backlash brewing? The cities of Chicago and Boston are trying to force the Chick Fil A chains to change their anti-gay policy (they won't serve gays!). I happened to catch this on the morning news yesterday. D.L., do you know more about this?

    Didn't the United States ban the discrimination of blacks at lunch counters back in the Civil Rights movement? How can we allow another group of people to be refused service (and employment) today just because the business or organization is privately owned?

    Back in the mid-1990s my husband, son, and I set out to visit an Indianapolis university. My son had applied there and been offered a scholarship. On the way home, near the infamous Kokomo, Ind., we ran into a rain storm and had to pull over at a truck stop. We decided to go inside and have something to eat. We were seated in a back room off the kitchen.

    Why? I am "white," my husband was black, and my son was wearing his Star of David. Needless to say, my son declined to attend that university because the experience was so humiliating and hurtful.

    1. Carla - Thank you for sharing your personal story of being discriminated against. I believe much of the antipathy against our President comes from his being black.


So,what are you thinking about?