Chris Hill is a Collin County commissioner, and a Republican. Until today he was also chairman of the Lone Star District of Dallas’ Circle Ten Council of the Boy Scouts of America. After yesterday’s vote to allow gay Scouts membership in the organization, Hill has resigned from that post. He issued this statement, according to the DMN:
It was with great disappointment that I received the news today that the national council of the Boy Scouts of America voted to change the membership standards that have guided the organization for over a century. It was my sincere hope that the executive leaders of the BSA would heed the call and the prayers of the scouting family throughout the country, the great majority of whom spoke with clarity and resolve in their opposition to the change. I am grieved and dismayed that the BSA has abandoned the 103-year legacy of its founder to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices.
BSA has its roots in the international Scouting movement, which was founded in Britain by Robert Baden-Powell in 1907. In 1989, biographer Tim Jeal wrote of Baden-Powell’s extremely close friendship with a fellow army officer: “Available evidence points inexorably to the conclusion that Baden-Powell was a repressed homosexual.”
Last year, on the opinion pages of the New York Times, Brooke Allen wrote that this possibility (which has been disputed, since there is no evidence that Baden-Powell’s relationship with this friend was ever physical), shouldn’t necessarily weigh on BSA’s decision regarding the inclusion of homosexuals:
Were Baden-Powell himself to be consulted on the subject, he would no doubt be horrified by any mention of open homosexuality in the Scouting movement. His mother’s training had taught him that sex was dirty, and this was an opinion he did his best to impart to the boys — and girls — who took up scouting. (“A Scout is clean in thought, word, and deed,” after all.)
Still, Baden-Powell’s life is a poignant story that should be known. This man who gave so much to so many suffered from the forces of repression and taboo. It is unfortunate that the American branch of the movement he founded should perpetuate them.
With Hill’s departure, there’s one less member of the organization to carry on that tradition.