Lake Miller’s summer project after graduating from Yellow Springs High School and before starting at Wittenberg University this fall is to start and help lead an LGBT-friendly Cub Scout pack.
Miller, an Eagle Scout is the youngest member of the national leadership team for Scouts for Equality, a group that encourages inclusiveness for LGBT youth and leaders in the Boy Scouts of America. Almost 5,000 youth, 2,300 adults 198 units have registered with SFE as inclusive.
The troop will be based at Temple Israel in Dayton.
“Our goal is not to make this a Jewish troop necessarily,” Miller said. “But to create a group of like-minded individuals who come together and who all support this community.”
Miller says as far as he knows the pack will be the first inclusive unit to be affiliated with a Union for Reform Judaism congregation. The URJ is known for its openness to LGBT people.
“I’m straight — I don’t identify with the LGBT community,” Miller said. “But for me it’s still really important to be in an atmosphere that’s inclusive. I don’t want anyone to feel that they’re not welcome where I am.”
Miller is recruiting four other leaders and at least 10 youth before he applies for a charter within the Miami Valley Council. The goal is to have an active pack starting this school year and eventually grow it into a Boy Scout troop.
Karen Bodney-Halasz, senior rabbi at Temple Israel, has a son who will be a Cub Scout at the temple.
“Temple Israel has always been inclusive, and anything we can do to support Lake’s efforts and provide a safe space in our community and enjoy being in something as meaningful as the scouts is really a great opportunity for us,” she said. “Lake is remarkable, and I’m excited to have him as a role model for my own son.”
Miller’s path to starting a pack began when the Boy Scouts ended a ban on gay leaders in July of 2015. That followed the lifting of a ban on gay youth in 2013. Local packs and troops have autonomy when deciding whether to allow gay leaders, and packs and troops affiliated with a religious organization cannot be compelled to allow gay leaders.
Miller and Chris Wyatt, a scout leader in Yellow Springs, started the SFE chapter within the Tecumseh Council (Greene, Clark, Champaign, Logan, Clinton counties) two years ago. A year ago he approached the URJ, which had severed ties with the scouts in 2001 because of the bans, about supporting the mission of SFE. The URJ, at Miller’s request, reaffirmed its connection with the scouts to support inclusive units.
Temple Israel will be home to the second pack in the Miami Valley that is registered with Scouts for Equality. The other is based at Fairmont Presbyterian Church in Kettering. Boy scout units in Columbus, Cleveland and Oberlin are the only others in Ohio registered with SFE.
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