Feb 25

In the News

Tax Break For Boy Scouts Who Don’t Discriminate – A newly proposed California law would end tax breaks for organizations that discriminate if passed.

Letter: Gays leading Boy Scouts? An unimaginable moral affront – (TC Palm) Letter writer has the vapors over proposed change; cites Sodom, Gomorrah, and the fall of the Roman Empire.

Susquehanna Valley United Way ‘pauses’ Boy Scout contribution until homosexual policy settled – The decision to ‘pause’ funds going towards the Susquehanna Valley BSA Council was decided in a unanimous vote Friday. They will hold the funding until the policy is changed to be non-exclusionary of gay members and leaders.

Once upon a time, slavery was the rule of the day, women couldn’t vote and ‘separate but equal’ was okay. There comes a day when we have to change our policies that are exclusionary.

California lawmaker hopes tax bill will break Boy Scouts – (World Mag) SB323 seeks to revoke tax exemption status for youth groups that do not comply with CA non-discriminatory laws, but Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute says it’s the BSA that being discriminated against.

“If they are successful in this … then the next step is to try to strip away tax exemption from churches as well,” Dacus said. “It is part of the radical homosexual rights movement, it’s to punish and silence those who have a religious belief that does not embrace and accept homosexuality.”

Letter: Boy Scout oath is clear on morality – (Herald-Dispatch.com) Letter cites homosexuality as morally wrong as defined by the bible: Also, refers to Sodom and Gommorah.

Opinion: Across the spectrum – Boy Scout discrimination must end – (The PAW Providence Academy)

The problem with the supporters’ arguments, however, is simple: the Boy Scouts’ current policy is discriminatory. Although religious leaders are right in stating that their moral beliefs condemn homosexuality, they’re wrong in thinking that those beliefs justify treating gays as second-class citizens.

Can You Renounce Your Eagle Scout Award – (SF Weekly) Many Eagle Scouts have sent in their awards and renounced their status with the BSA, but what does this really mean?

So it’s clear that Eagle Scouts can send their regalia to BSA HQ. But does this mean you’re no longer an Eagle Scout? That answer is no.

Feb 25

In the News

The Boy Scouts of America: Another Closed Door for Black GBTQ Youth – (HUffington Post) The BSA has given rise to many great men including CLin Powell, Michael Jordan and others, but it’s ban on homosexuality is hurting those very same young men.

“The words “morally straight” and “clean” are what have fueled the BSA’s homophobic stance and consequently have given rise to both its misinterpretation and misuse of the group’s own guidelines”

Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind & Homophobic – (Nyack News & Views)

My, how times have changed. And it’s time for the Boy Scouts of America to change – to get better. And they CAN get better by allowing gays to serve within their organization. Inclusion can NEVER be a bad thing. It certainly is the FAIR thing.

Feb 21

In the News

Community reacts to Boy Scouts’ LGBT Controversy – University of Delaware’s student, Sophomore, Erik Peterson who was a Boy Scout of 12 years is among many in the community that believe the BSA should allow LGBT into the BSA. There are now rainbow flags flying all across the Green of the campus in support of the proposed change, reflecting the opinions of the majority here in this town.

Boy Scout leaders on both sides of gay membership issue seek input – Members and leaders in Boy Scouts on both sides of the issue of rather to allow gays in Scouts are mobilizing petitions and other types of support to help sway the vote in May to their sides.

“In a Syracuse.com poll some 60 percent favored changing the policy to admit gays, with nearly 46 percent saying the national council should insist that local units admit gays.”

Senator Lara Introduces Youth Equality Act

On the heels of the controversy surrounding the Boys Scouts of America’s policy to exclude members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community as scouts or adult leaders, today State Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Long Beach) and Equality California announced the introduction of new legislation that would remove a state tax exemption for any youth group, including the Boy Scouts, that discriminate against members and leaders on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Feb 19

Discrimination hurts Scouting and Scouts Alike

Throughout this policy debate, most time is spent discussing discrimination’s affect on those it acts on: gay scouts and adult leaders. Obviously this policy causes us emotional trauma and pain, however we are not the only victim of Scouting’s exclusivity. In fact, one of the largest victims of this gay ban is the Boy Scouts of America themselves. Scouting’s resources and public image have been seriously harmed by their discriminative policy, which detracts from their ability to offer a strong program to their 2.7 million members.

The Boy Scouts of America is only successful due to the great work done by hundreds of thousands of volunteer leaders. These amazing individuals come from all backgrounds, religions and lifestyles to teach leadership and Merit Badge skills. In fact, without such diversity, it would be impossible to find volunteers proficient in the more than 120 Merit Badges offered by the BSA. In the same way, the great diversity in scouts exposes youth to new ways of thinking, and teaches them the importance of diversity and celebrating differences rather than fearing them. By banning gay scouts and leaders, we lose thousands of potential leaders and scouts who have amazing things to share with our organization and its youth.

To highlight this fact, I opened up the BSA’s National Youth Leadership Training Syllabus, which features a training titled “Valuing People.” In this 50 minute presentation, Scouts learn that people differ many different ways, including religion, race, gender, age, physical appearance, etc. The learning goals of the training include:

  • Understanding that the Scout Oath, the Venturing Oath, and the Scout Law guide us in valuing other people.
  • Recognizing that both the similarities we share with others and our differences can help groups be stronger.
  • Seeing that we have a responsibility to act in an ethical manner in our dealings with people whose core values differ from our own. 
However, for some reason, none of the above applies to homosexuals, who are never mentioned in the presentation. The BSA acknowledges that diversity is good for group development, yet at the same time teaches Scouts not to associate with gays. It weakens their message and brands them as hypocrites. I have been present at this presentation many times while staffing NYLT, and every time I have been asked about gays. In fact, until recently, the BSA included a disclaimer at the end of the presentation that says if scouts ask about the ban on gays, an adult should take over and explain that none of the above applies because the gay lifestyle is self destructive. Under that logic, we should ban scouts and leaders that smoke as well. After all, scientific evidences can actually prove how harmful that is. They fail to explain how, or why they endorse conservative religious dogma on this issue (in clear violation of their own Statement of Religious Principle that claims the BSA is nonsectarian).
Besides the loss in diversity, the BSA’s ban on gays have turned away thousands of potential families from the Scouting program, who refuse to put their children in a program that says it is okay to discriminate. While I admit that accepting gays could lead to a short term loss of more conservative members, the long term data is clear: America is becoming more and more gay friendly, and if the BSA does not change their stance soon the American public will pass them by, and leave them behind in the pages of history.
Lastly, discrimination has greatly affected the public face of the BSA, harming their fundraising efforts, and therefore their ability to provide a strong program for their scouts. It’s no accident the BSA stopped hosting their National Jamboree at the US Military base Fort A.P Hill. They are being kicked out of schools and over government buildings for years, costing them thousands, to relocate. In the case of the Jamboree, it meant millions of dollars spent building their own, privately owned camp to continue discriminating in security. They have lost support from United Way branches across the nation, and there is a national movement to end United Way giving nationally, their largest across the board donor. Corporations including UPS, Intel, and Merrick have stopped their corporate donations, and Churches including the United Church of Christ have called for a change in the policy. This financial strain hurts Scouting deeply, increases costs on Scouts to attend camp, go on adventure trips, and learn the skills that makes Scouting so great.
The facts are just that, facts: Discrimination in Scouting hurts not only those forced from the group, but the BSA itself. We cannot provide the best Scouting program possible without ensuring the BSA is inclusive.

 

Feb 06

BSA Postpones Any Action Until May

Today, the Boy Scouts of America announced that they are postponing until May any action on the proposal to revise their discriminatory membership policies.

The Inclusive Scouting Network has responded with the following statement:

While it is disappointing the Boy Scouts of America decided not to take any action on their national anti-gay membership and leadership policy today, we are encouraged knowing that this discussion, the first and only time national BSA leaders have openly indicated they are ready to accept gay Scouts, will continue.

Today’s action by the BSA’s National Executive Board is not a “no;” instead, it is an opportunity for Scouts and Scouters across the country, from the local level to the national level, to continue to press for positive change. We are hopeful that this process will include Scouts and Scouters who have already been subjected to discrimination by the Boy Scouts of America, and we will work diligently to highlight voices of inclusion from local units and chartering organizations across the country in the lead up to May’s national council vote.

In their first edition of the Boy Scouts Handbook in 1911, the Boy Scouts promised that “every American boy shall have the opportunity of becoming a good scout.” It is time for the Boy Scouts of America to live up to the great American ideals and principles they have embodied for more than a century by saying, “We don’t discriminate and discrimination is not okay — period.”

Feb 06

Inclusive Scouting Network poised to connect Scouts with Inclusive Troops

The Inclusive Scouting Network, a group of current and former members of the Boy Scouts of America founded shortly after the Supreme Court’s Boy Scouts v. Dale decision in 2000, stands ready to help parents, Scouts, and Scouters connect with Cub Scout Packs and Boy Scout Troops that support inclusivity.

“We are optimistic that the BSA’s National Executive Board will do the right thing on Wednesday and approve the proposed membership policy change,” said Christopher Hayes, one of the co-founders of the organization. “Our Inclusive Scouting Award program uniquely positions us as an ideal resource for connecting parents, Scouts, and Scouters with troops and packs that support diversity within the BSA.”

Last week the Boy Scouts of America National Headquarters issued a statement indicating a possible change in their long-standing policy of categorically excluding gay youth and adults from their membership rolls. “This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs,” BSA spokesperson Deron Smith said in a statement. “BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families.”

Introduced in 2002, the Inclusive Scouting Award is a small, multicolored patch designed to mimic other adult leader awards worn on the scout uniform and modeled after the “safe space” sticker programs used in high schools that research has shown to be very effective at improving the environment for LGBT and other at-risk youth. The Inclusive Scouting Award identifies wearers as supporters of inclusive scouting and allies to Scouts and Scouters threatened with exclusion by the BSA’s discriminatory membership policies. Because the emblem has never been approved by the BSA, its motto is “You earn it by wearing it.”

“Thousands of active Scouts and leaders all over the country are wearing the patch, and it hasn’t exactly been easy for many of them to be visible within the BSA.” explained ISN co-founder Mark Noel, who like Hayes is another Eagle Scout who was expelled in 2000 when BSA officials discovered that he was gay. “If the BSA follows through on the proposed policy shift towards a ‘local option,’ one immediate consequence is that parents, Scouts, and leaders will need help finding inclusive Scout units in their area. Additionally, by refusing to develop a national non-discrimination policy, BSA is effectively dumping the responsibility for developing non-discrimination policies and best practices onto individual units for the first time” Noel continues. “Fortunately, there are already thousands of dedicated volunteers everywhere within the scouting program. We just have to help all these supporters find each other so that they can continue their great work delivering and improving the scouting program.”

The two ropes of the square knot on the Inclusive Scouting Award patch symbolize religion and sexual orientation. One rope is silver and purple – colors the BSA reserves for religious emblems. The other rope is rainbow-colored – a pattern that is representative of diversity and is used widely in LGBT communities as a symbol of pride and unity. According to reported BSA statements, the proposed change to membership policies would apply only to sexual orientation and would not change BSA’s longstanding national policy of barring all atheist, agnostic, and non-theist youth and adults from the program.

“If, and, I hope, when, the proposed policy is handed down, we’ll begin to see change in local Scouting units and councils the likes of which we’ve never seen,” added ISN co-founder Matt Comer, who was dismissed from scouting at the age of 14 after helping to start a gay-straight alliance at his high school. “We have distributed over 7,000 patches, pins, and stickers over the past 6 months alone and new orders are coming in at a record pace. Due to demand, we have also been working with other groups like GLAAD and Scouts for Equality to introduce new patch designs and materials that people can use to show their support.”

“Even though the proposed policy would still explicitly allow discrimination, we applaud the BSA for taking this significant step forward,” said Hayes. “And we’ll be here to support parents, Scouts, and leaders until the BSA finally makes scouting available to all.”