FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 19, 2013
Christopher Hayes (518) 466-4386
Mark Noel (603) 387-7731
Matt Comer (336) 391-9528
INCLUSIVE SCOUTING NETWORK VOICES RESERVATION AND CONCERN OVER PROPOSED GAY SCOUT POLICY
Proposed policy would maintain institutionalized discrimination, limit opportunities of openly gay Boy Scout youth
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, is voicing reservation and concern over today’s proposed policy change by the Boy Scouts of America regarding gay members and leaders. The Executive Council of the Boy Scouts of America released their proposed policy today, which keeps the gay ban in place for adult leaders but would prohibit kicking out openly gay Scout youth members “on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone” [emphasis added]. The policy must be voted on at a national meeting of more than 1,400 Scout representatives in May and would not go into effect until 2014.
“We believe the proposed policy is a small step forward, but does not go nearly far enough in addressing issues of discrimination against gay Boy Scout members and leaders,” said Christopher Hayes, one of the co-founders of The Inclusive Scouting Network. “This policy maintains institutionalized discrimination, leaves open the possibility of harassment and bullying of gay youth, and continues to send the wrong message to youth members that discrimination is acceptable.”
“Under this policy, every gay Scout will eventually be kicked out — it’s only a question of when,” said Mark Noel, another co-founder of The Inclusive Scouting Network. “Allowing a 16 year old to stay and complete his Eagle is a step forward, but why would he stay when the same policy will kick him out as soon as he turns 18? The message here is that LGBT people still aren’t welcome in the BSA and have no future in Scouting.”
The proposed policy is concerning on several levels, including:
• the limitation for Scout advancement past the age of 18,
• the continued institutional message that discrimination is acceptable,
• the implication that LGBT youth don’t know what they’re doing when they come out,
• the lack of anti-bullying and anti-harassment provisions for gay youth in chartered units with anti-gay theological positions, and
• the lack of any provision granting recourse to youth denied opportunities for membership under this proposed policy.
The Inclusive Scouting Network believes the proposed policy, though deeply flawed, is better than the current policy and therefore urges representatives to the national meeting in May to pass it. However, the organization will continue working to ensure that the Boy Scouts of America will become a safe and affirming environment for all Scouts, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and religious belief. The only acceptable policy is a comprehensive national policy of non-discrimination that does not expire with age.
“The Boy Scouts of America’s proposed policy is a delaying tactic in dealing with important issues of inclusion and discrimination,” said ISN co-founder Matt Comer. “This issue will not go away, as indicated by the Scouts’ own surveys showing a majority of their own youth members ages 16-18 oppose the discriminatory policy.”
Over ten thousand people across the nation and the globe are speaking out against the Boy Scouts of America’s continued discriminatory practices by wearing the Network’s Inclusive Scouting Award. 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 (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) 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.”
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.
Inclusive Scouting Network
PO Box 2853
Malta, NY 12020
Press resources: http://www.inclusivescouting.net/media/
# # #