Lesbian Labeled a "Sinner," Removed From Son’s Boy Scout Troop

BY Winston Gieseke

August 26 2011 2:20 PM ET

A Virginia woman has been removed from a leadership position in her son’s Boy Scout troop after six years of service — all because she’s a lesbian.

Denise Steele and Jackie Funk have been together for 19 years and are raising their two children Jackson, 12, and Jaden, 9, along with Steele’s nephew Will, 10, in the town of Potomac Falls.

According to the  Loudoun Times-Mirror, Steele became a den leader for Jackson’s troop six years ago when no other parent volunteered for the position, and with her help the group “excelled at everything, including accomplishing badges and winning the Blue and Gold Award all five years, one of the highest awards for Boy Scouts.”

According to her partner, Steele enjoyed her work with the Scouts. Not only did she quickly reach her goal of becoming an assistant scout leader — training generally takes a year, but Steele completed it in less than a month — she says she offered full disclosure, informing scoutmaster Mike Tucker of her nearly two-decade relationship with Funk. He told her there was no problem.

But in June the devoted leader was removed from the troop after an assistant scoutmaster, Skip Inabinett, learned of her relationship with Funk.

Inabinett reportedly sent an email to a friend of Steele’s asking her to approach Steele about stepping down. “As her friend, this may be an opportunity for you to share with her about Christ’s love and the need to believe that as sinners we cannot get to heaven on our own and that we need a savior,” he wrote.

In a situation Funk labeled “bullying,” Inabinett also exchanged emails with Steele, many of which reduced her to tears.

Then, according to Steele and Funk, Inabinett skipped the normal protocol of speaking to the committee and the district, choosing instead to go directly to the top and asking the Boy Scouts of America to remove Steele from her position.

They did.

Since “open homosexuality” is considered “inconsistent with the values” of the Boy Scouts of America organization, a representative from the troop’s charter organization — the relatively conservative Christian Fellowship Church — said Steele’s removal was a matter of following the rules. “We are simply doing what we agreed to do in our charter,” said Esther Schaeffer.

Steele’s friend Eric Ianson, an Eagle Scout himself, disagreed with the ruling “I think it’s disappointing — it’s a sad day for Boy Scouting. I think the actions are really out of sync of what scouting stands for,” he said.

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