Last Tuesday, Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced it was reaffirming its policy banning all gay people from all aspects and all levels of Scouting. On Friday, 22-year old Tim Griffin, an Eagle Scout who is gay, and was the most-tenured staffer at Camp Winton, a Boy Scouts of America summer camp in California, was fired. Some BSA leaders stated he was fired for dress code violations, while others add his behavior was part of the decision. But Griffin, who worked at Camp Winton for eight years, rising to program director, says he’s certain he was fired for being gay, and noted, “They told me in a very harsh way that I don’t embody the true Scouting spirit.”
Griffin added, “I definitely think that the reaffirmation of the anti-gay policy played a role in my termination,” according to a report in the Sacramento Bee:
After the week’s campers left Saturday morning, 10 of about 30 camp staff members resigned to show support for Griffin. The summer camp closes in two weeks.
The decision to fire Griffin came from the Golden Empire Council, which serves 20,000 Scouts from Redding to Sacramento and runs two summer camps, including Camp Winton near Bear River Reservoir along Highway 88.
“What it came down to was his failure to comply with management regarding a uniform issue. We gave him plenty of warnings,” said Glen Goddard, program director for the council.
Fellow staffers who support Griffin say the firing was entirely about his being gay.
“It was absolutely about his sexual orientation, no question about it,” said Graham Littlejohn, an Eagle Scout and the third-ranking staff member at camp until he joined Saturday’s walkout.
The in-camp tension over the firing of Griffin – the longest tenured staff member – peaked at the Friday night campfire when the camp program director, the No. 2 position, read an impassioned speech about tolerance. He resigned in the morning along with the other staff members.
The support for Griffin shows that the reaffirmed ban on gays is a matter of debate even within the Scouts.
On the other side, Randy Thomasson, president of the website SaveCalifornia.com, which bills itself as an advocate for traditional family values, said the Scouts had every right to dismiss Griffin.
“The Scout policy is well known,” Thomasson said. “The Boy Scouts have high standards for behavior. The Boy Scouts ought to be commended for maintaining their high standards.
“This guy should not have been working there once he decided he was against their stance on sexuality,” he said.
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.