Should the Boy Scouts change their policy of denying leadership roles to parents who are gay or atheists?
DALLAS — Scouting has long been a way for fathers and sons to bond.
But Jon Langbert says he's being forced out of a leadership role in his son's Cub Scout troop because of his sexual orientation.
"It wasn't until last week that I found out that I'm not allowed to wear this anymore because I'm gay," Langbert said, holding a neatly-pressed uniform shirt.
Langbert said he was told not to wear the Cub Scout uniform while attending functions with his nine-year-old son. He often wore it while overseeing the troop's popcorn drive and teaching sales skills to the youngsters.
Several other fathers reportedly started to complain about Langbert's homosexuality.
"It made me feel terrible to think about the devastating effect it would have on my son to see his father stripped of his leadership role," Langbert said. "It brought tears to my eyes."
Circle Ten council officials said they did not remove Langbert as a leader because he was never registered as a leader in the first place.
All registered Scout leaders must pass criminal background checks. Langbert said he welcomes the process, but the Boy Scouts of America is not welcoming him.
"We do have a policy that avowed gays and atheists are not allowed to be a registered leader or member of Boy Scouts of America," said Pat Currie, Scout Executive with the Circle Ten Council "It's a longstanding policy."
With that policy, Langbert believes the Boy Scouts should only be allowed to operate in churches and not in public schools — where his tax dollars go. He would prefer, however, for the Scouts' policy to change.
"It's 2010," Langbert said. "We have a black president; an Indian-American governor in Louisiana; and a lesbian mayor in Houston. This policy is out of touch, and it's time for a change."
Ten years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Boy Scout guidelines rejecting leaders who are gay or atheist. The court said as a private organization, the Boy Scouts can set their own membership standards.
Currie said he understands that some people don't concur with the Scouts' policy. "We just hope that the people who disagree with our position will treat us with the same respect," he said.
Langbert is leaving it up to his son on whether or not to drop out of the Cub Scouts. Right now, he's leaning toward leaving the organization.