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 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 17

Equal Scouting Summit in Grapevine, TX

2013 Equal Scouting Summit in Grapevine, TXScouts for Equality and the Inclusive Scouting Network to Support Equality at the “Equal Scouting Summit”

Next week, as the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) considers for the first time ending discrimination of gay Scouts, Scouts for Equality (SfE) and the Inclusive Scouting Network (ISN), will host the “Equal Scouting Summit.” with support from GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign. Being held across from the BSA National Meeting, the Summit is an opportunity for supporters from across the country to come together to discuss next steps in building the foundation of an inclusive BSA.

Speakers at the Summit will include Zach Wahls, Mark Noel, Jennifer Tyrrell, Greg Bourke, Will Oliver, Pascal Tessier, Dave Rice, and Dave Knapp whose personal experiences of the BSA’s discriminatory policies moved them to become leaders of the equal Scouting movement and led to the collection of more than 1.8 million Change.org petition signatures calling for an end to the BSA’s ban on gay members. Events during the Summit will include a welcome ceremony for Eagle Scout Dave McGrath and his son Army Specialist Joe McGrath as they ride into Texas and complete their 1,800-mile bike ride for equality and the culmination of the Voice of the Gay Scout project. Gay Scouts across the country have submitted letters of what they would say to the National Council voters if they had the opportunity and during the Summit those letters will be read out loud.

All events are OPEN to the press. Additional details will be released in the coming days.

WHAT: Equal Scouting Summit
WHEN: Wednesday, May 22nd – Friday, May 24th
WHERE: Great Wolf Lodge, 100 Great Wolf Drive, Grapevine, Texas
WHO: Scouts for Equality, Inclusive Scouting Network, GLAAD, Jennifer Tyrrell, Greg Bourke, Dave Rice, Dave Knapp, Will Oliver, Pascal Tessier, Eagle Scout Dave McGrath, Army Specialist Joe McGrath, Scouts, Scout Leaders, Parents & Supporters

Press Information: Members of the press can register to attend and submit requests for interviews at www.inclusivescouting.net/media/2013-summit-registration/

For more information go to www.scoutsforequality.com/summit

Full media advisory here

May 08

The Voice of the Gay Scout

For the past two months, BSA leadership has continually asserted that all parties have had their voices heard concerning the upcoming vote to allow openly gay scouts in the program. However this couldn’t be farther from the truth. There is one group, affected by this policy more than any other demographic, and strictly forbidden from sharing their experiences in dealing with the policy. That’s right: gay scouts, the only group directly touched by this policy, have been forced into silence.

Scout with baseball bat and gloveThe Inclusive Scouting Network is aware of this issue, and is launching a project called “The Voice of the Gay Scout”. We’re accepting letters, about one to three paragraphs in length, from gay scouts who cannot otherwise share their opinion on this policy without facing expulsion from the program. These letters will then be read by Scout allies, in uniform, to the press to ensure your voice is heard before the National Council votes in May. Share how this policy has affected you, your friends, and your values. This is your chance to tell the BSA leadership to their face how you’ve felt, and what repealing the ban would mean to you.

I have talked to many gay scouts over the last few months, and heard heartbreaking stories about what this policy has done. Broken friendships, shattered confidence, being forced into a life of lies an dishonesty, and in dire cases, the taking of one’s own life. Personal stories will create more change on this issue than any advocacy or advertising ever could. Reach out to other gay scouts you know, and urge them to send us their letter.

Letters can be sent to voice@inclusivescouting.net. If you’re interested in being an ally and reading one of the letters at the Equal Scouting Summit in Dallas, May 21-24, please email us as well! Thank you all for your hard work and dedication, please keep up the pressure, we’re just weeks away from victory!

May 07

In the News

Dave and Joe on the roadFather-son duo biking in support of gays in Scouts stop in Orem – The McGrath family is no stranger to discrimination against gay people, especially those in their family whom they love dearly. Dave and Joe McGrath, a father son duo, are riding 1,800 miles by bicycle from Idaho to Texas in order to take a stand against gay discrimination and with hopes to save the lives of young men who are gay. They BSA is going to hold a vote on May 23rd to determine whether or not to accept gay youth into the Boy Scouts, a change in the way they have operated for the past several decades. The McGraths are riding mainly unsupported and are inviting any supporters to join them riding or in donations.

Follow their daily updates and support their journey at Old Scouts Promise.

Rick Perry: Boy Scouts Must Resist ‘Flavor Of The Month’ Pro-Gay Views – Governor Rick Perry continues to speak out against LGBT equality in the Boy Scouts. In this article he equates the shift in public sentiment to pro gay as “pop culture” and “flavor of the month” type of thinking. He also goes further to compare the fight for gay people’s rights as being similar to the fight to end slavery, but ends up getting some key facts straight.

“The fact is, this is a private organization. Their values and principles have worked for a century now, and for pop culture to come in and try to tear that up because it just happens to be the flavor of the month, so to speak, and to tear apart one of the great organizations that have served millions of young men … that is just not appropriate,” Perry said during a discussion on the Family Research Council’s “Stand With Scouts Sunday”

Religion Beyond the Right – Ever since the announcement was made by the BSA that it will be voting on a proposal to lift the gay ban on youth within the organization, religions across the spectrum have spoken out. From the far right who denounce any change in current policies, to the middle and one left to more liberal religions who want the entire ban lifted, it seems that one issue has been forgotten. According to BSA bylaws, every religions teachings are to be treated equally. However, to date, the BSA’s actions have not adhered to its own policy. With the vote coming it would be wise for the BSA to listen to each religions teachings and take them into consideration for the vote.

Boy Scout Policy on Gays Doesn’t Go Far Enough, Says L.A. Group – The Western Los Angeles County Council of the BSA announced that it believes the proposed amendment to allow only gay youth should be amended to include gay leaders, volunteers and staff as well. This council believes that the proposal just does not go far enough in the fight for equality of LGBT people.

Rick Perry: ‘Gay’ Boy Scouts? ‘Not on my watch’ – Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, has joined forces with the Family Research Council to try and influence the proposal to allow gay youth to be members, to be voted down. Perry also stated that he stands by, and hopes the American people will say, “Not on My Watch”, to the proposal.

Rep. Steve Palazzo Claims Boy Scouts are ‘Bullied, Extorted’ for Banning Gays (Video) – Republican Steve Palazzo also joined other supporters Sunday with the Family Research Council’s “Stand With Scouts” webcast where he stated that he believes the Boy Scouts of America is being bullied, harassed and extorted for banning gays. Palazzo also went so far as to ask for the removal of all “agitators” from these discussions, but did not identify or explain how he thinks this would be carried out.

“The Boy Scouts are actually being bullied worse than any group or organization that has ever been bullied before,” said Rep. Palazzo. “They’ve been intimidated, extorted for corporate funds, contributions.”

“They are being harassed and, at the end of the day, they are also being ridiculed by some in the liberal media. And so if I can do anything, I’m going to lend my voice and my strength to them and tell them to stand strong [against allowing gays].”"

Apr 22

BSA Coalition Offers Alternate Resolution on Adult Members, Leaders, and Parents

A coalition of Scout leaders led by Jay Lenrow from the Northeast Region has submitted an alternate resolution to the BSA to allow units to welcome adult members, leaders, and parents regardless of sexual orientation. This resolution was delivered to the BSA this morning, the deadline for consideration at the BSA’s 2013 annual meeting next month.

Cover Letter for BSA Resolution on Adult Leadership

BSA Resolution on Adult Leadership

The relevant language from the resolution reads:

All adult applicants must possess the moral, educational, and emotional
qualities that the Boy Scouts of America deems necessary to afford positive
leadership to youth. The applicant must also be the correct age, subscribe to the
precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle (duty to God), and abide by the
Scout Oath and the Scout Law.

That each Chartered Organization of the Boy Scouts of America shall have
the right (but not be required) to grant membership to individuals who, in the best
judgment of that Chartered Organization, demonstrate behavior that exemplifies
the highest level of good conduct and respect for others in accordance with the
mission of the BSA and is consistent with the principles and teachings of that
Chartered Organization, without regard to sexual orientation.

They have asked for help in encouraging the BSA’s National Council to allow a vote on, and then vote for the resolution. You can find your local BSA council by putting your ZIP code into BSA’s web form at BeAScout.org.

Apr 19

Press Release on Proposed Policy Change

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 19, 2013

Press contacts:
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
info@inclusivescouting.net
www.inclusivescouting.net

Press resources: http://www.inclusivescouting.net/media/

# # #

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.”

Jan 25

BSA Threatens Maryland Cub Scout Pack

The National Capital Area Council of the BSA has threatened to revoke the charter of Pack 442 in Cloverly, Maryland over the non-discrimination policy posted on the pack’s web site:

Boy Scouts Threaten to Kick Out Troop For Supporting Gay Members

Les Baron, CEO and Scout Executive of NCAC, confirms to Mother Jones that if the pack doesn’t erase the declaration, “they will not be recognized as an organization, although that’s our last resort.” That means that the troop will lose access to member insurance, rank badges, and scout camps. The only problem with the statement, Baron acknowledges, is the reference to sexual orientation. “That’s a message that’s against our policy, and we don’t want it continue to be out in our community,” Baron says.

According to the article, the pack has until tomorrow to decide whether to comply or lose its charter.

Oct 10

In the News

Local Eagle Scout gives his award to teen denied the honor – (video) Florida Eagle Scout sends his award to Ryan Andresen, the young man in California recently kicked out by the Boy Scouts of America for being gay after completing all the requirements for Eagle.

Former Boy Scout sends Eagle medal to teen who was denied his own because he’s gay - More on the story above.

Boy Scouts of America Continue to Support a ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Policy of Their Own – Op-ed by Pete Mason on BSA’s policies and Ryan Andresen’s case:

Had Ryan Andresen not said anything about his orientation, had he not come out and just finished his Eagle requirements in the closet, he would have received his Eagle badge, but he would have not have been true to himself. Where in the Scout Oath and Law is this idea that keeping quiet about who you are and whom you love is the best way to go about being a member of an otherwise respectable organization? How can BSA look at him and say, “Well, you did all the work, but you’re gay, and that cancels out the work, so no Eagle badge for you.”

Gay Scouts come out, rally around teen’s Eagle Scout bid

US: Scout denied Eagle badge invited onto the Ellen Degeneres Show

An Alternative, Inclusive Scouting Organization - David Atchley describes the Baden Powell Service Organization, an attempt to create an inclusive scouting organization within the United States while skirting the boundaries of BSA’s Congressional Charter and the monopoly it gives BSA on “scouting” organizations.

United Way of York County, regional Boy Scout leaders to meet - Guess what they’re going to be talking about.