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Legally fired for who she loves

Cross-posted from Eclectablog.

Last week, Lauren Jasenak from Brighton, Michigan was fired by the Boy Scouts of America from her job at a Michigan BSA ranch for being a lesbian. Because of Michigan's bigoted laws, the firing was legal and Jasenak has little to no recourse in what should, by all accounts, be a violation of her civil rights.

By all accounts, Lauren Jasenak makes a great Scout. She's friendly, courteous, helps others and loves being outdoors.

In addition, the 2011 Brighton High School graduate lives her life with honesty — and it's that last quality that got her fired July 18 from the Boy Scouts of America D-bar-A Scout Ranch south of Lapeer.

Sometimes, honesty may not be the best policy.

Lauren Jasenak was preparing to work her third summer at a Michigan Boy Scout camp when the camp director learned she was a lesbian and fired her.

The 19-year-old Brighton woman broke down in tears as she was forced to sit in camp manager Bill Licht's office until she signed a letter stating she had violated Scout policy. She asked for a copy of the policy she had broken, but she didn't receive one.

She was told to pack up her items and leave that evening.

Lauren Jasenak had no car, was scared and didn't know how she and her pet rabbit, Thumper, would get home. The camp was two hours away from her Brighton home.

Luckily, she found a friend who drove out and picked her up.

She has filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which sometimes treats such complaints as a form of sex discrimination. However, the outcome of that is uncertain.

To add to her humiliation, she was forced to sign a letter (pdf) that said:

I, Lauren J. Jasenak (Lauren McGarry) understand that it is the policy of the Boy Scouts of America to not knowingly register or employ anyone who is or has committed to being gay.

I understand that offering a description of my sexual preference to Ann Spates as being a lesbian, I violate the policy of the Boy Scouts of America.

I also understand that this violation is condition for terminating my employment, effective immediately, as a staff member for the Great Lakes Council Cub Scout Resident Camp at D-bar-A Scout Ranch.

Funny thing, isn't it? She is honest and gets fired. The lessons the BSA are teaching their young scouts is (a) it's okay to be a bigot and to discriminate against others and (b) honesty is not always the best policy. I can't think of anything that betrays what we think of as being a principled scout more.

For shame.

Originally posted to Eclectablog - eclectic blogging for a better tomorrow on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 09:11 AM PDT.

Also republished by Michigan, My Michigan.

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Comment Preferences

  •  My father was a Boy Scout. (16+ / 0-)

    My older brother was a Boy Scout (made it to Eagle, in fact).

    I was a Boy Scout (I made it to First Class before my troop disbanded due to it being too small to sustain).

    However, my son, currently 7, will not become a Boy Scout.

    Even if they do stop discriminating against homosexuals, they also discriminate against (known) atheists and agnostics.

    It's a damned shame, because the Scouting program does teach a lot of useful life skills, but I just can't do it.

  •  Weren't the scouts about to (4+ / 0-)

    jettison their antigay policy a month or so ago? Then they kicked the can down the road?  Perhaps this woman can find work with the Girl Scouts?

    "Valerie, why am I getting all these emails calling me a classless boor?"

    by TLS66 on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 09:29:57 AM PDT

  •  If she was forced to stay... (11+ / 0-)

    ...in the camp manager's office until she signed some sort of document, then she was kidnapped.  Once her employer uttered the magic words "You're fired" or some equivalent statement indicating that the employer/employee relationship has come to an end, she was no longer under any obligation to obey any subsequent orders.

  •  The boy scout motto , (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ColoTim, Penny GC, irishwitch

    Be prepared to hate and discriminate .  

    Drop the name-calling MB 2/4/11 + Please try to use ratings properly! Kos 9/9/11

    by indycam on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 09:42:42 AM PDT

  •  boy scouts have "special" 1st amendment right (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    celdd, ColoTim, Cassandra Waites, Penny GC

    when gay exclusion is an inherent part of private group's identity and message.  From 2000:

    The Supreme Court ruled today by a 5-to-4 vote that the Boy Scouts have a constitutional right to exclude gay members because opposition to homosexuality is part of the organization's ''expressive message.''

    The majority today drew a distinction between this decision and a trio of Supreme Court rulings from the 1980's rejecting the arguments of all-male organizations, including the Rotary Club, that they had a First Amendment right to exclude women.

    The court held in those cases that because the exclusion of women was not part of the shared goal or expressive message of those organizations, the application of state civil rights laws to require the admission of women did not place an unconstitutional burden on the members' right of association.

    Another reason why judicial appointments are so important.

    "It is in the shelter of each other that people live." Irish Proverb

    by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 09:43:10 AM PDT

    •  It's not a "special" 1st Amendment right (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sparhawk, Cassandra Waites, VClib

      Private organizations have a right to define their organizations any way they want.  The KKK can define itself as bigoted against minorities and refuse to let any in.  

      The issue with the Rotary Clubs was that the Court found that it really wasn't a private organization but instead was for facilitating business.

      The question is whether the private organization has effectively become a place of public accommodation, so that the state can regulate its membership.  

      For the Scouts, it was a private organization that had as its stated and express purpose to instill certain "values" in young people.  Because of the First Amendment, the Court can't decide that the "values" it wants to instill are good or bad; a private organization can organize with the purpose of instilling values you think are abhorrent.  Because including a gay man was inconsistent with the "values" underlying the purpose of that organization, the Court held that the Boy Scouts had a First Amendment right to use his homosexuality as a basis for exclusion.  It's sort of a much, much, much bigger of application of the notion that private individuals can discriminate as much as they want in their own private places (like their homes) and their private organizations.    The First Amendment means that if they really are a private organization, with membership that has certain private values (good or bad), you can't force them to admits someone they think is inconsistent with that organization's values.

      Remember, the Equal Protection Clause, prohibiting discrimination, applies ONLY to actions by the government.  Generally, private individuals have the right to discriminate as much as they want unless they come within some specific prohibition like those applicable to places of public accommodation (specifically defined like stores and restaurants) and employment.  And even employers can, in some instances (like religious organizations) have the First Amendment Right to discriminate on a basis that others might find offensive.  

      •  it was special in this case (0+ / 0-)
        The four dissenters did not object to the general principle that an organization cannot be forced to adopt or incorporate an unwanted message -- a principle the court applied unanimously five years ago in upholding the right of the Boston St. Patrick's Day parade organizers to exclude a group that sought to march under a banner of Irish gay pride.

        But the dissenters objected strenuously to that principle's application in this case, because they said the majority had done little more than accept at face value the Boy Scouts' assertion of the central importance of their opposition to homosexuality. But except in briefs filed in cases defending their membership policy, the Boy Scouts had never made the ''clear, unequivocal statement necessary to prevail'' on a claim that homosexuality was fundamentally incompatible with the organization's mission, the dissenters said.

        "It is in the shelter of each other that people live." Irish Proverb

        by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 11:33:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's not a "special 1st Amendment rule" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          VClib

          The rule is the same -- if you can demonstrate that you have to discriminate on some basis to keep intact a central purpose of your organization, the First Amendment lets you discriminate.  

          The dissenters agreed with the rule -- the "principle."  

          The dissenters disagreed with whether the Boy Scouts had proved a fact -- that opposition to homosexuality was of central importance to their particular organization.  Had the Boy Scouts proven that opposition to homosexuality was central to their organization to the satisfaction of the dissenters (like, if their value or purpose statement said their purpose was to instill values in accordance with a fundamentalist Christian view of the Bible or to instill heterosexual values, or something more overt), the dissenters, according to what they said, would have ruled in favor of the Boy Scouts as well.  They agreed with the rule.  They simply disagreed whether the Boy Scouts have proved that opposition to homosexuality was a fundamental view of that organization.  

          The rule is the same.  If the discriminatory views are fundamental to the views of the private organization, and if the organization admits members in keeping with those views, the First Amendment lets that private organization discriminate.  The dissenters recognized that.  They did not believe, however, that the Boy Scouts proved that opposition to homosexuality was fundamental to that particular organization.  

          •  lol, yes i know what you are saying (0+ / 0-)

            i am a lawyer. but you miss my point. i have "special" in quotes to highlight what the court did in this case per the dissenters:

            But the dissenters objected strenuously to that principle's application in this case, because they said the majority had done little more than accept at face value the Boy Scouts' assertion of the central importance of their opposition to homosexuality.
            Justices dissented because the requirements for coming within this principle were not met in this case. Hence, "special."
            But except in briefs filed in cases defending their membership policy, the Boy Scouts had never made the ''clear, unequivocal statement necessary to prevail'' on a claim that homosexuality was fundamentally incompatible with the organization's mission, the dissenters said.

            "It is in the shelter of each other that people live." Irish Proverb

            by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 12:32:01 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  It's not private (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vacantlook

      I will continue to point out that the BSA operates in the United States under an annual charter that is authorized by the Congress of the United States.

      If that's not a public organization, then I don't know what is.

      Imagine for one minute if the KKK or Black Panthers operated under such an arrangement.

  •  It's okay to cover up for pedophile scout masters (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SCFrog, a2nite

    but wrong to be gay. The Boy Scouts will go the same way as the Catholic Church as the hypocrisy becomes more evident.

    She may have been naive to be honest but being forced to stay in the office until she signed a letter was coercive. I'm no attorney but I wonder if it could be considered kidnapping.

  •  Committed to being gay? (5+ / 0-)

    WTF does that even mean?

    We do not forgive. We do not forget. The whole world is watching.

    by Tracker on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 09:58:45 AM PDT

  •  I continue to bang my head. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sfbob, Eclectablog

    I've been battling this for years.  I remain blessed that Boston Minuteman Council has adopted a non-discrimination policy that I have taken to printing on the back of my BSA business card so people know.

    The "Voice of the Scout" survey is being sent to some, but not all Scouts and Scouters nationally.  I received mine, and completely blasted national for their policy.

    Unless and until the BSA changes, we're on the wrong track and will be doomed to the dustbin of history.

    Scouts Canada is open and co-ed.
    Scouts UK is open and co-ed.
    The Girl Scouts are open, but still gender-specific.

    Scouts UK is even open to agnostics and atheists - you could look it up, they even have alternate oaths that delete references to God.

    Again, I point to the Mormons, Southern Baptists, and all the other religious wingnuts that populate national scout leadership, and have in turn POISONED the program for everyone else.

    Word from the inside is that the policy is going to be reversed, but the BSA was not ready to announce it just yet when the story was leaked.  They pushed off the decision to make sure all their ducks were in a row.

    But the sad fact is, no matter what happens now, it's too late.  Membership and the BSA's reputation will suffer either way, depending on what side you're on.

    As for me...I believe I am on the right side of this.

    name redacted
    District Training Chairman
    Pack Trainer
    Lifelong Scout

  •  Any group that punishes people for being honest... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SCFrog

    is in serious trouble.

    This is not the BSA I belong to as a kid in the 1960's. Even given that it was SO not cool to be gay back then the organization was far more tolerant. Nobody really cared what you did or did not believe in as long as you showed up, kept your uniform tidy, did your part and had all the important stuff memorized. I've no doubt that my troop had gay kids in it (I heard stories, believe me, even then. I just wish I'd been included in some of the "fun" but I was a terminally uncool child).

  •  Any Group That Claims To Be 100% Gay Free (0+ / 0-)

    ...is likely to degenerate into a sex club for pedophiles.

    If someone can explain that in 25 words or less, have at it.

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 11:54:51 AM PDT

  •  It would have been tempting to tell the hate- (0+ / 0-)

    filled son-of-a-bitch to go fuck himself.  No sense in getting down in the sewer with him, though.

  •  The BSA must be afraid that being around her (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eclectablog

    would make them become lesbians. And there is nothing as awkward for bigots as a male lesbian because they like women and can't be outed by knowing who they love.

    I'd tip you but they cut off my tip box. The TSA would put Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad on the no-fly list.

    by OHdog on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 02:23:42 PM PDT

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