Legally fired for who she loves
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 seen as 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 are (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.
UPDATE: This hits me on a rather personal level. I am a bisexual man who was both a Den Leader and a Cubmaster (boss of the Den Leaders) for a Cub Scout pack when my son was in elementary school. I took over for a straight woman who had embezzled thousands of dollars from our boys and we spent a year making up for that. During that time, under my leadership our pack went from one that was languishing with low participation to one that was flourishing and vibrant and engaging. We did so well, in fact, that I earned the Scout’s highest honor for volunteer leaders: The Award of Merit.
The woman that embezzled from us was the criminal but, had I revealed my sexual orientation, it was me that would have been treated like a criminal and driven out of the organization. Deeply ironic, in retrospect.