Award Winning Den Mother Removed From Scouts For Being a Lesbian
Denise Steele first became involved with the Cub Scouts of America, and later the Boy Scouts for the most inane of reasons – no other parent would volunteer to be a den leader for the interested boys in town. Over the course of six years as a Den Mother, Steele transformed her initial reluctance into an award winning tenure with the Scouts.
Her five years spent leading her son Jackson’s Cub Scout troop saw the group awarded with the Blue and Gold Award – the highest honor – all five years. With the exception of two boys who moved away from town, Steele’s entire troop remained active Scouts and graduated to Boy Scouts earlier this year.
Steele’s relationship with Jackson’s other mother, Jackie Funk, was hardly a lightning rod for controversy among the parents of the other boys in the group. Rather, Steele became a trusted community leader who many of the other Cub’s parents turned to for advice.
When Jackson and the rest of his troop graduated to Boy Scout, Steele completed the certification process to become a Boy Scout leader in three weeks. The process usually takes about a year. No, she didn’t cut corners or half-ass the process. Steele was just that good, a truly gifted leader in the Scouts. She was open and honest about her partner of 20 years with Mike Tucker, the scout master overseeing her training, during the process. He informed her that there was no problem, and that local decision makers had the authority to overlook some of the Boy Scout standards.
In June of this year, Steele’s participation in the Boy Scouts came to a screeching halt after an assistant scout leader, Skip Inabinett, saw Funk pick Steele up from a camping trip. He became obsessed with the women’s relationship, and took his issues directly to the highest level possible within the organization – skipping the local committee and chair that had approved Steele’s credentials in the first place.
Inabinett also sent this bizarre email to one of Steele’s friends:
And that’s the end of it. Steele, and award winning and beloved Scout leader has been kicked out of the Boy Scouts for being a lesbian. The five years she spent shaping her troop into the fantastic young men they are today means nothing to the Boy Scouts, nor does the fact that there would not even be a local Cub Scout troop in her town had she not volunteered for the job, because no other parent was willing to shoulder the responsibility.
The scout law says a scout should be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind and obedient, thrifty, clean and reverent, Ianson said.
“I mean, when the leaders of the troop hear that, how does it feel? Were they loyal to Denise? It certainly wasn’t kind what they’ve done to her,” Ianson continued. “It absolutely isn’t brave. The brave thing to do would be to take a stand here and say this isn’t right, this person has been great to our kids and it’s time to stand up for her and be great for her.”
Even other assistant scout masters from Steele’s troop felt it was vindictive, like Joe Leonard.
“I saw that he was vindictive and on a witch hunt because he asked her personal friends what her sexuality was. There’s no business in that. It’s a shame that a good leader for the boys has been removed because of one person who’s eccentric when it comes to his religious belief,” Leonard said. “It’s also a sad not that [Boy Scouts of America] has not or is not willing to entertain what other private organizations have done and their beliefs.”
(via Loudoun Times)