Jul 11

The Inclusive Scouting Award in Western Washington

There’s a great article this week from Tacoma’s News Tribune on the Inclusive Scouting Award and some of the more than 60 local parents, Scouts, and Scouters who are wearing it:

Navigating Scouting’s policy on gays

Photo credit: Dean J. Koepfler/Staff Photographer, The News Tribune (Tacoma, WA).

We’d also like to respond to something BSA’s official spokesperson was quoted as saying in the article:

A statement from national spokesman Deron Smith sent to The News Tribune on June 13 read: “This is not an official patch and represents a personal viewpoint, not Scouting.”

It’s true that this is not a BSA-sanctioned patch, but that’s precisely the point. The Boy Scouts of America, Inc. is not the same as Scouting. Scouting is a movement; BSA is a corporation.

The Scouting movement includes the values of loyalty, helpfulness, friendliness, courtesy, kindness, and equality that are all inconsistent with the BSA’s discriminatory membership policies.

BSA as a corporation exists to support the thousands of parents and volunteer Scouters across the country who are doing the actual work, day-to-day and week-to-week, of delivering a quality Scouting program to our nation’s youth. When BSA demands obedience like this regarding its discriminatory policies and the youth members harmed by them, it forgets who it exists to serve.

In this case, the Inclusive Scouting Award patch is not merely a “personal viewpoint.” Rather, it represents Scouting better than the BSA currently does.

Jul 05

New patch: “A New Day for Scouting”

Inclusive Scouting Award colors woven into a paracord braceletThese newly-arrived patches are based on the design for the 2013 Equal Scouting Summit recognition patches and feature the Scouts for Equality eagle logo and the Inclusive Scouting square knot logo in front of a mountain sunrise. They are fully embroidered with 13 thread colors and are 3 inches in diameter — perfect for shirt pockets.

Available now in the Inclusive Scouting Store.

May 23

Victory! Boy Scouts of America takes a step forward with new gay membership policy

Today, the Boy Scouts of America National Council voted to approve a new policy prohibiting discrimination against gay youth members. The decision, which passed at 61%, by the Boy Scouts is an important step forward, but is just one small step in a much longer journey for Scouting.

For 13 years, The Inclusive Scouting Network has worked to promote a Scouting movement that is open to all and closed to none, regardless of sexual orientation and religious belief. Today’s victory could not have been possible without your support. Because of your hard work and willingness to speak out for inclusion, we can celebrate this historic decision reversing decades of wrongs against gay Scouts. But, we will not rest until Scouting is a safe and equal place for all people.

Starting in January, gay and bisexual Scouts across the country will be free from the fear of being kicked out, but only while they are youth members. Upon transitioning into adult leadership, youth who proudly served as Scouts will be shown the door. Friends, our work is no where near done.

We have a tremendous amount of work to do to ensure the Boy Scouts implement appropriate policies and safeguards against bullying and harassment before their policy goes into full effect next year.

Discrimination on any level is unacceptable. You know this. We know this. America knows this. Let’s continue to work toward the day when Boy Scout leaders, too, finally begin to respect and honor every member of their Scouting family.

You can begin to make a difference today: Wear our Inclusive Scouting Award to show your fellow Scouts and Scouters that you support a Scouting movement free from fear and discrimination. We will create safer spaces for all Scouts one person at a time. Visit our store to get your Inclusive Scouting square-knot patch and start wearing it proudly today.

Want to do more to help us move forward? Fill out our volunteer form to sign up for our email list and volunteer opportunities, or make a financial contribution to help us continue our work. Your assistance will be instrumental in continuing this movement, creating educational resources, providing resources to local troops and councils and helping us promote our message of inclusive Scouting.

May 23

In the News – Voting Day

Vote on Boy Scouts’ gay ban brings out protesters from both sides – At an Equal Scouting Summit yesterday the message was this step must be passed, but the fight is fr from over. Speaker, Mark Noel, a Scoutmaster who was ousted in 2000 for being gay stated,

“those who accuse gays of injecting sexuality into Scouting failed to recognize that bringing his husband to a Scouting event was no different from bringing a wife or children. “That is the double standard, that is the discrimination, that is what has to change,” Noel, 43, said. Noel helped found the Inclusive Scouting Network, with its own rainbow badge, which he encouraged opponents of the ban to keep wearing this week, even after the vote. “Keep wearing it until the day comes when we don’t have to wear it anymore,” Noel said. “That day has not come yet.”

Boy Scout leaders to vote on lifting gay ban – As two opposing sides gather in Grapevine, TX, the BSA’s official executives are beginning a council meeting to decide whether or not to pass a proposal that would end the ban on gay youth in Scouting. Those opposed to lifting the ban “took one last stand” and held signs as people drove into the resort. In favor of lifting the ban, folks were gathered across the street at another hotel. Speakers such as Dave McGrath, Zach Wahls and Mark Noel discussed why the ban must end and shared their personal stories.

Vote on gay Scouts comes at emotional moment
On Thursday the council members of the BSA set to vote on the proposal to end discrimination against gay youth in the BSA.

“Obama urged the organization to reverse the ban before a national executive board meeting that took place in February, and two high-profile board members — the CEOs of AT&T and Ernst & Young — said they would work from within to change the policy.”

Boy Scouts set to vote on lifting gay youth ban – Opposers and supporters alike are gathered in Grapevine, TX to stand up for their side. Opposition of the proposed lift on the gay ban on youth in the Scouts say that lifting the ban will decimate the Scouts. Those in favor of lifting the ban such as Zach Wahls stated.

“What we’re seeing is a conversation” on gays in scouting that activists have wanted for years, Wahls said. “That being said, we want full inclusion — ending the ban on gay youth and leaders.”

May 23

Voice of the Gay Scout: Thoughts and experiences from Scouts who live in silence

Alex reading stories submitted by gay Scouts at Wednesday's press conference. Credit: GLAAD.

The entire Scouting family awaits today’s decision by the Boy Scouts of America National Council on whether openly gay Scout youth will be accepted in the program. Many people have had the privilege to speak out about their experiences. Yet, there are many whose voices have been silenced by the current policy. These gay and bisexual Scouts submitted their stories to us. We shared some in our press conference yesterday and are posting passages from these stories below. These young people’s lives, experiences and thoughts deserve to be a part of this debate. We only wish they could have had the opportunity to speak without fear and without the need for anonymity.

The following is from a 15 year old gay scout in Florida…
After my mom died, I struggled with a lot of pain, hurt and loss in my life but I had the scouts. I have friends, leaders and a home in the scouts. I know the scout oath by heart and I try to live by it every day. I listen and I learn, but then I show and I teach also. I believe in the Boy Scouts and in my country, but I am gay, and no one but my family and friends believes in me. I’m the same person I was before anybody knew I am gay. I haven’t changed. The only difference from before is how Scouting views me. You closed your eyes to who I am and all I can be. Shame on Scouting for seeing with its eyes and not its heart.

The following is from a gay scout in New York, who lost an important role model in his life…
Our council removed our beloved scoutmaster of over a decade when they heard he was getting married—to a man. Both wonderful people. was a mentor, the man you want to be when you grow up. He had taught me how to tie my shoes. He had taught me right from wrong better than my father did. When I didn’t respect anyone, I listened to Rob. He cared when others didn’t, then he was ripped away. He taught me how to tie my shoes. My friends, fellow scouts and scout leaders, who could I trust? I couldn’t trust anyone.

The following is former gay Eagle Scout and camp staff member in North Carolina…
I was an Area Director for scout camp, I served at there for several years without conflict until it was known that I am friends with known homosexuals. A target was painted on my back and there were several attempts to fire me based on my non-scouting friends, and then on the fact that I wasn’t cliquish, that was willing to be a friend to anyone, popular or misfit, staffer or camper. I did more than pay my knowledge forward and after I was outed for one of my sisters’ senior projects about gays in scouting, I couldn’t return to something that I loved.

The following is from a gay Eagle Scout from Oregon…
The Ban on Gay Scouting has made me feel like I can’t be true to myself and to others by respectfully saying that, “yes, I’m gay and in scouts,” while in the program. Keeping it a secret from a lot of people within the program, I feel like it can contribute to a persons low self-esteem, and I feel like that happened to me early on in my scouting career and realizing that I was gay, up until recent years of being in college. If the policy doesn’t change include EVERYONE, I feel like the self-esteem of LGBT scouts will continue to suffer greatly.

The following is from a gay Eagle Scout and National Leader in the Order of the Arrow…
The thought of receiving a letter from the national office, or a phone call from my local Scout executive, informing me that I was no longer welcome in Scouting pained me to my core. Several Scouts who have been removed from the BSA because of their sexuality have told me about the anguish they felt when their membership was revoked. They felt betrayed, depressed and lonely. In an instant, their many years of service were deemed meaningless in the eyes of the BSA. Their Scouting friendships halted. I lacked the courage to endure the humiliation that accompanies being removed from Scouting. So, I decided not to renew my membership, and I feel like a coward for doing so.

The following is from a 17 year old Eagle Scout from Minnesota…
Every time I accepted an opportunity to further serve Scouting, I made the conscious decision to misrepresent who I was in order to remain involved. I, like many others, chose to sacrifice my personal life so that I could have a hand in building a better Scouting for current and future Scouts. For me, electing to remain active was also a decision to live in fear. Because I was paranoid that my secret would be revealed, I took extreme measures to minimize the likelihood that Scouting members would believe that I was anything other than a heterosexual young adult. This included a ridiculous level of social media privacy setting changes. While these measures may seem silly, gay Scouting friends of mine have been removed because Scouters reported them for information found on their social media profiles that suggested or stated that they were gay.

The following is from a gay, Catholic Eagle Scout from Illinois…
I am fearful that I will loose something that I have loved my whole life just because of who I love. I’m fearful of not being able to do fun activities like Jamborees, summer camps, and even just OA fellowship campouts. I am required to be trustworthy, but I can’t because of this ban. This also means the BSA is violating their own Law by forcing us not to be true to ourselves. I hate lying to others and myself, it doesn’t right at all, but I have to if I want to remain a Scout. I wish the BSA would realize how this ban has affected us, the quiet gay scouts who suffer in a world, where we hear anti-gay slurs throw around at school everyday. We can’t be true to ourselves because we feel like society won’t accept us and love us for who we are.

The following is from a gay Eagle Scout from Wisconsin…
The ban on openly gay scouts has completely controlled whom I come out to, where and when I do it. It’s controlled my sense of security: Instilled fear in my heart, as I wondered countless times, “Will today be the day? Is this the time I get kicked out?” Luckily for me, that never happened. I had friends who could keep my secret, mentors I could confide in. For other scouts without this option, the fear and anxiety must be truly unbearable. Discrimination hurts, mentally, emotionally, it degrades you and your spirit, forces you to lie and twist truth. It’s a violation of all things decent and a disrespect to my dignity as a human being. The day this ban is lifted, will be the happiest of my life.

The following is from a gay scout in Alabama…
I had been out at school for many months at that point and I thought that I would be fine hopping back in the closet for a long weekend. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I found myself needing to censor my speech all the time. I had to deny and hide the part of my life that I had finally embraced and expressed. As other scouts were talking about the girls they liked or their girlfriends I stayed quiet again. This was routine for me but the pain was worse than it had been before because I had finally experienced talking about people that I liked. I sat there and listened as some of the scouts I consider close friends talked about homosexuals as being unnatural and that homosexuality is a choice. I sat there screaming inside my head because I couldn’t tell them who I was and share my story.

The following is from a gay Section Chief in the Order of the Arrow…
I am not fortunate enough to be a good actor, so I have become a “party pooper” and not able to participate in conversations that occur about girls because I don’t have anything to contribute. I tell those people conversing that talking about girls at a scouting event is not appropriate, which gets me made fun of. I get asked if I am gay now and again, and to lie to them is against the scout law, but to tell them the truth is against policy, so I resort to saying nothing and changing the subject, which usually makes them believe I am gay. All of this added pressure and things to think about makes a teenager’s life more difficult. I noticed that since I came out to myself, I have been in more of a sour and sometimes depressed mood because I cannot be myself. I cannot go on dates like a normal teenager. I cannot talk to my friends about my day and life.

May 22

Press Conference Audio: Inclusive Scouting Network & Scouts For Equality, Change.org

Two press conferences were held today with a variety of speakers including former Scouts, current Scouts, former and current Scout leaders and parents, straight allies and advocacy organizations working on the proposed Boy Scouts of America policy on gay youth membership.

We’ve posted the audio of the two press events below.

Inclusive Scouting Network & Scouts for Equality Press Conference
Click here for .mp3 (approx. 38 mins.)

Speakers: Brad Hankins, Scouts For Equality; Zach Wahls, Scouts For Equality; Dave Rice, Inclusive Scouting Network; David Knapp, Scouting For All; Matt Comer, Inclusive Scouting Network; Mark Noel, Inclusive Scouting Network; Alex Derr, Scouts For Equality & Inclusive Scouting Network; Eric Hay, local Dallas Boy Scout.

Change.org & GLAAD Press Conference
Click here for .mp3 (approx. 36 mins.)

Speakers: Rich Ferraro, GLAAD; Jennifer Tyrrell, Cub Scout mother; Zach Wahls, Scouts For Equality; Greg Bourke, Boy Scout father; Will Olver, gay Eagle Scout; Pascal Tessier, gay Boy Scout; Mark Anthony, Change.org.

May 22

Boy Scouts National Prez Wayne Perry supports resolution on gay youth members

Writing for USA Today, Boy Scouts of America National President Wayne Perry says he supports the proposed resolution changing the Scouts’ membership policies to allow openly gay and bisexual youth.

“No matter what your opinion is on this issue, America needs Scouting, and our policies must be based on what is in the best interest of our nation’s children,” Perry wrote in an op-ed today.

Perry also addressed wildly irrational and inaccurate claims from opponents of the proposed policy changes.

“Some have voiced concerns that this proposal could put children at risk of being abused,” Perry wrote. “The BSA makes no connection between sexual abuse and homosexuality.”

The Inclusive Scouting Network welcomes Perry’s position and thanks him for his op-ed. As we have for the past 13 years, we’ll keep raising awareness of important issues of exclusion and discrimination in Scouting until the day when all people — regardless of age, sexual orientation and religious belief — are treated fairly and equally in this iconic program.

You can read Perry’s full USA Today op-ed here…

Be sure to follow the Inclusive Scouting Network here on our website, on Facebook and on Twitter for updates from our Equal Scouting Summit with Scouts For Equality.

May 22

U.S. House members stand up for Scouting equality

Scouts for Equality Praise House Members for Support of Non-Discrimination Resolution
Twenty House Members Submit Letter to the Boy Scouts of America Urging Passage of Resolution

May 22, 2013 (USA) – Today, Scouts for Equality praised twenty members of the US House of Representatives for their support of the resolution being considered by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) that would end discrimination of gay Scouts. All twenty members signed onto a letter calling for the passage of the resolution and the end of discrimination of gay Scouts by the BSA.

“We applaud these leaders for taking a stand on behalf of all of the amazing young men who have been denied the opportunity to be a part of the Boy Scouts of America,” said Zach Wahls, Eagle Scout and Founder of Scouts for Equality. “As one of the most highly regarded organizations in America, it is time that the Boy Scouts live up to the values that they taught all of us and create a stronger, more inclusive organization.”

The 1400 voting members of the BSA will decide on Thursday at the National Meeting if the longstanding ban will be eliminated. Scouts for Equality, together with the Inclusive Scouting Network, GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign, are hosting the Equal Scouting Summit directly across from the National Meeting.

To register for the summit or to schedule an interview with any of the participants go to www.inclusivescouting.net/media/2013-summit-registration/

A copy of the letter can be found at http://waxman.house.gov/sites/waxman.house.gov/files/Letter%20to%20Boy%20Scouts%20of%20America%20Letter%205-21-13.pdf

Members who signed onto the letter are:
Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO),
Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-RI), Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ),
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. George Miller (D-CA), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN),
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA), Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR),
Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA),
Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY), Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA),
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA)

May 22

Equal Scouting Summit: Day One

The Inclusive Scouting Network and Scouts for Equality have teamed up to host our Equal Scouting Summit in Grapevine, Texas. We’ll be here, right across the street from where the Boy Scout National Council is meeting, from May 22-24. Throughout each day, we’ll post updates and photos here on our website, on Facebook and Twitter. Throughout the week, we’ll also be posting several “Voice of the Gay Scout” commentaries submitted to us from current and former gay Scouts.

On our first day today, here’s what you can expect, plus our full three-day schedule below (click to enlarge):

Wednesday, May 22 (all times Central)
Light breakfast/coffee, 8-10:30 a.m.
Open House – Meet with Inclusive Scouting Network and Scouts for Equality members, All Day
Evening Reception and Cracker Barrel, 7:30-10 p.m.

May 21

Veteran professional Scouter: Shame on Boy Scouts for abandoning gay youth in need

Bruce “Trip” McMillan, a 37-year veteran professional Scouter currently living in Charlotte, N.C., has a message for the Boy Scouts of America: He supports the proposed resolution on gay youth members, and you should, too.

“Shame on us as a movement,” McMillan says, “if we continue to abandon ‘one of our boys’ at perhaps the most difficult moment of their life.”

The former professional Scouter took to Facebook on May 20 to tell his friends and family that he supports the Boy Scouts of America’s proposed gay youth membership policy, just three days before the group’s National Council is set to vote on a new membership policy on gay youth.

McMillan, a self-described “foot stomping, glory halleluiah, [sic] shouting, Bible believing, Born again Evangelical Christian,” also has a message about discrimination and exclusion for his fellow Christians: “EVANGELICAL FRIEND, this is so wrong and I struggle deeply to believe this is what God would have us do,” he says.

The Inclusive Scouting Network believes McMillan’s message, which we’ve reprinted in its entirety below, represents the views of many current and former Scouts, Scouters, Scout parents and friends of Scouting. We don’t necessarily agree with everything he has to say; such is to be expected in a movement as large and as diverse as Scouting. Yet, we respect McMillan’s unique perspectives, his diversity of thought and his willingness to stand up for gay youth. We know there are many people just like McMillan who hold sincere personal and religious beliefs on matters of sexuality and who are also able to understand the importance of protecting young people from exclusion and discrimination.

In short, McMillan exemplifies the best and truest values of the Scout Oath and Law.

McMillan retired as the Area 4 director for the Northeast Region of the Boy Scouts of America in 2012. A Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, McMillan’s Scouting career began in 1975 as a district executive in Wayne, N.J, after which he served as Scout executive in councils Maryland, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Click here to read McMillan’s full message of support for the proposed gay youth membership policy.

Continue reading