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

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 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

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].”"

May 03

In the News

Let Me Get One Thing Straight About The Gays – There have always been controversies over whether there should be gay people in the military, major league sports and Scouting, but LGBT people have always been there and always will be. People wonder if gay people can maintain long term relationships and the answer is the same. So, it boils down to the real question, which is whether or not gay people should be allowed to say they’re gay. The answer there? Of course they should! LGBT people have always existed, will always be in every part of society and whose right is it to tell them that they can’t say who they are?

Letter: LDS and Scouting – The LDS Church has come out in support of the BSA’s new proposal to allow gay youth into Scouting, but to continue it’s policy banning all gay adults in any capacity. The LDS Church is trying to keep policies for everyone involved in Scouting within their own religious belief system, but would be seen as more tolerant if they allowed gay adults in Scouting.

Ousted Boy Scouts Leader Jennifer Tyrrell Joins NOH8 Campaign – Jennifer Tyrrell, a gay mom who was den mother for her son’s Scout troop, was ousted last year by the BSA for being openly gay. She has recently joined the NOH8 campaign and is seen in the article posing for NOH8 in her Scout’s uniform with the traditional duct tape across her mouth and NOH8 sign on her cheek. Tyrrell is an open opponent to the BSA’s ban on gays in Scouting and is also working to reverse Ohio’s 2004 amendment forbidding the state to recognize any marriage that is not heterosexual.

VIEW FROM AWAY: Collins’ merit badge – NBA center, Jason Collins, had become uncomfortable keeping his sexual orientation a secret and earlier this week made a public announcement that he is gay. He is now the first openly gay athlete in pro sports, a change that will hopefully lead to more players feeling comfortable coming out to the public. The Boy Scouts have offered up a feeble proposal that would allow gay youth, but continue it’s discrimination against gay leaders. As Scouting is all about families, the Scouts need to take a hint and move forward with the times allowing an all inclusive membership. Being LGBT just isn’t that big of a deal in the public’s eyes anymore.

BSA should accept gay Scouts, leaders – In a vote to come later this month the BSA has proposed to lift the ban on openly gay youth, but continue forward with it’s ban on openly gay adult leaders (anyone starting when they turn 18 years old). This proposal has people on both sides of the controversy saying that the inconsistency within the proposal is not acceptable. Some religious groups will pull their charters for troops if gay youth is allowed in Scouting and many of those in favor of inclusiveness for all feel the proposal would ultimately not be enough of a change.

Scouts’ proposal would ‘increase boy-on-boy sexual contact’ – John Stemberger, founder of OnMyHonor.net and an Eagle Scout has sent a letter to the more than 1400 members of the National Council who will be voting on the BSA’s proposed change that would allow openly gay Scouts to participate in Scouting until their 18th birthday. He believes that if the proposal is passed it would lead to unwanted activities between boys. On the other side, proponents of allowing all LGBT people to participate fully in Scouting, are not satisfied with the level of the new proposal either. This group feels that the step would fall short of what is truly needed to make an acceptable change within the Boy Scouts of America.

“Opening the Boy Scouts to boys who openly proclaim being sexually attracted to other boys and/or openly identify themselves as ‘gay’ will inevitably create an increase of boy-on-boy sexual contact,” says John Stemberger, Eagle Scout and founder of OnMyHonor.Net, in an open letter to Scout leaders.

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/

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