May 04

The Final Stretch

We’re entering the final stretch – only three more weeks until the BSA votes on a policy change at its annual meeting in Texas. And we’re going to be there.

The Inclusive Scouting Network is partnering with Scouts for Equality to hold an Equal Scouting Summit in Dallas right next to the BSA’s convention. We’ll be inviting our supporters within the BSA to meet with Scouting allies like Zach Wahls and Dave Rice, religious leaders from denominations that believe that discrimination is wrong, and many Scouts and Scouters who have been personally affected by the BSA’s discrimination. We will also be welcoming Dave and Joe McGrath as they complete their cross-country bike ride for inclusive scouting.

But we really need your help.

Specifically, we need your financial support right now more than ever. We have to cover the cost of sending representatives to the BSA’s convention and hosting events for the BSA’s voting members in addition to meeting record demand for our Inclusive Scouting Award patches and other materials. We’re 100% volunteer-run, so every dollar you can chip in goes directly towards getting our supporters and materials into the field.

Please contribute whatever you can today to our efforts. We can win this vote later this month and improve the environment for LGBT youth in Scouting, but not without your help.

Thanks!

P.S. Your donations today will not only support our efforts at the BSA’s convention this month, but will also help us field some newly created Inclusive Scouting materials in time for the summer camp season. It doesn’t take much to make a big difference – even just $20 goes a long way. So please help out as much as you can.

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 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.

 

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.

 

Aug 29

In the News

Redlands Cub Scout parents defy Boy Scouts on anti-gay stance - A large Cub Scout pack in California meets and decides to operate without discrimination.  The article has a good description of the process they went through, which was not without bumps (two families who agreed with the BSA left the unit as a result).  Also has a statement from BSA National Headquarters implying that their unit’s charter may now be at risk.

Redlands Scout pack to take stand against Boy Scouts of America position on gays - Another article on the Cub Scout pack in California that met and decided to be inclusive:

“Several of the Scout parents who I met with over the last few days agreed that if we took that statement from the Boy Scouts policy and replaced avowed homosexuals with African Americans, Jews, Muslims or any other group such as that, we would be horrified,” Gardner said. “We would never support that.”

Boy Scouts of America pack to stand up to anti-gay policy - An LGBT news outlet in the United Kingdom even picked up on this.

Selectman proposes Boy Scout public meeting ban - More on the West Newbury, MA town considering an ordinance aimed at discriminatory groups.

Candidates Don’t Deserve Support Unless They Commit to Do the Right Thing - A law professor in San Diego writes about the interplay between the BSA, the state, and the BSA’s threats to revoke the charter of any unit or council that resolves to be non-discriminatory.

Discrimination never acceptable - Letter to the editor in York, PA defending the local United Way’s decision to sever ties with the BSA and also rebutting a previous letter that tried to equate homosexuality with pedophilia.

A Review of the Republican State Platforms Finds Widespread Antigay Bias - An analysis by The Advocate illustrates one of the ways that the BSA has successfully made itself into a political issue:

Within their platforms, Texas and Louisiana give written endorsements for the Boy Scouts of America, which has come under fire from human rights groups, and most recently, President Obama, for its discriminatory policies. According to the Louisiana platform, the organization, “defend[s] moral decency and freedom according to [its] own well-established traditions and beliefs.”

Letter: God’s guidance is for our own good - Letter supporting the Boy Scouts and repeating a bunch of thoroughly debunked myths about sexual orientation.

New Studies Help Boy Scouts ‘Be Prepared’ - An article on empirical research into scouting’s effectiveness. One interesting tidbit:

In a recent article in the journal Gender and Society, [Kathleen] Denny points to studies of citizenship as an example of the differences in approach of the two handbooks. Girl Scouts are asked to interview community members and make a list of citizenship responsibilities whereas Boy Scouts need only read and repeat what is required of a good citizen.

“The girls’ handbook conveys messages about approaching activities with autonomous and critical thinking, whereas the boys’ handbook facilitates intellectual passivity through a reliance on organizational scripts,” Denny surmises. (The Girl Scouts also take no line on atheism or sexuality.)

A Letter from the President - The author describes her daughter’s decision to write a letter to President Obama about the BSA’s policies:

She, though not a Boy Scout, decided that she also took issue with the Boy Scouts and their exclusion of gay youth and leaders. Her first question to me was, “Does the President know what the Boy Scouts are doing?”

 

Aug 28

In the News

Scouts hike to attract recruits - Troop 2 in Albany, NY retraces a 75-mile hike from 1912 in an effort to recruit new members.  Their ranks are severely depleted, in part because of the BSA’s high profile stance against gays and other minorities:

[O]fficials at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Albany, which provides a free meeting space and some financial support to Troop 2, conferred with [Scoutmaster] Conklin about his troop’s policy and wanted assurance that there was no discrimination or exclusion because of sexual preference or any other reason.

Conklin said some churches and religious groups that sponsor the Boy Scouts in the Capital Region dropped their affiliation after news of the gay exclusion policy renewal broke.

Eagle Scouts Protest Exclusion of Gays - An Eagle Scout in Swampscott, MA joins about 150 others who have sent their Eagle badges back to BSA headquarters.

Eagle Scouts give back their badges - Another article from Boston about Eagles returning their badges.  Has the same response from the BSA as the article above, dismissing the returned badges as an extremely small minority of Eagle Scouts.

The New Birth of Freedom Boy Scouts Council could lose United Way funding - More on the Harrisburg, PA United Way’s decision to hold BSA to its non-discrimination policy, resulting in a loss of about $90,000 per year in general funding for the local BSA council.

Selectman upset by boy scout gay ban, wants them banned instead - More on the West Newbury, CT MA town council’s proposal to keep BSA and other discriminatory groups from using town resources.  (Note: this walks a very fine legal line depending on whether the BSA is getting resources that aren’t available on the exact same basis to any other private group.)  The selectman who proposed the ordinance has already received a telephone death threat as a result.

Romney and Obama Agree on Having ‘Gay’ Boy Scouts - Article from “Church of God News” asserting that Jesus would not support either Romney or Obama for President because of their statements opposing the BSA’s discrimination against gay scouts.  Cites a lot of verses about Sodom and Gomorrah.