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 15

In the News

Sequoyah Council BSALocal Boy Scout Council to vote against lifting gay ban (Johnson City Press) – The Sequoyah Council in East Tennessee and Southern Virginia announces its opposition to any change to the BSA’s current ban on LGBT scouts and scouters. The council’s delegates to the BSA’s annual meeting next week will vote against the proposed policy change allowing gay youth to remain in scouting.

Heritage Foundation Alleges Gays in Scouts Would Lead to More ‘Boy-on-Boy Contact’ (U.S. News & World Report)

An influential conservative advocacy group in Washington said Tuesday a vote to allow homosexuals to join the Boy Scouts of America would lead to more homosexuality and sow “moral confusion.”

During a panel discussion hosted by the Heritage Foundation, experts said a “yes” vote to allow gay boy scouts – but not gay scout leaders – was a “fatal concession” for the 103-year-old organization, and they worried the policy would lead to “increased boy on boy contact” as well as a domino effect toward allowing gay leaders in the future.

Experts Warn Boy Scouts Delegates Against Being ‘Snookered and Bamboozled’ Into Gay Vote (Christian Post) – Conservative Christian Leaders including Cathy Ruse at the Family Research Council warn of a parade of horribles if the BSA’s gay ban is partially lifted for LGBT youth.

Good Boy Scouts don’t need God (Tuscon Citizen / USA Today)

US: Lawyer tweets cartoon suggesting gay scout leaders would trick boy scouts into sex – Matt Barber at Liberty Counsel tweeted a cartoon depicting gay men as pedophiles trying to trick scouts into having sex with them. More coverage here.

May 11

Equality Riders Visit Matthew Shepard Memorial

Dave and Joe McGrath, the father-and-son Eagle Scout and Army Veteran team biking across the country for equality in scouting, stopped in Laramie, WY to pay tribute to Matthew Shepard, one of whose murderers was an Eagle Scout. CBS 5 news has their story:

KGWN –Cheyenne, WY– Scottsbluff, NE News,Weather, Sports

You can follow their journey on their Old Scout’s Promise blog or facebook page.

May 10

In the News

United Way logoEditorial: United Way walks fine line on Boy Scout issue – The United Way of Greater Lafayette has found a way to make it through a protest that it adopt a stronger non discrimination policy and quit funding the Boy Scouts of America unless they changes their anti gay policies. In response the United Way did adopt a stronger non discrimination policy, falling just one class short of Purdue’s own policy. It also says it now offers a way for donors to select or deselect for their money to be given or denied to certain groups that the United Way gives money to. Is it just for show or does it really make a difference in where the United Ways funds go?

Most Americans support lifting ban on gay Boy Scouts

“In the new poll, 63 percent of Americans support allowing gay scouts to join, and the public opposes the plan to continue to ban gay adults from Boy Scout leadership by a 56 to 39 percent margin. The results contrast with a USA Today/Gallup poll last year, where only 42 percent said openly gay adults should be able to serve as leaders.

University professor: Allowing gay Boy Scouts will put them ‘up for grabs’ by ‘sexual predators’ and communists – Jerry Falwell founded Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia and his son nows run it. He has said that ‘gays’ were responsible for the September 11th attacks and accused the Teletubbies for promoting the ‘gay lifestyle’. Professor Reisman responded,

“Yeah, certainly there is because when you have an enslaved population which sexual addiction and sexual pornography creates, a slave population, when you have a slave population, when you have people whose focus is by no means on anything upper air, they’ve given up their religion, you can’t have two masters, they are controlled by their sexual lust, when you have that kind of population, that kind of population will do anything to fulfill their lusts, their interests and they have no compunction about forcing other people to adhere to that.”

May 08

In the News

US: LA Boy Scouts chapter breaks with national policy and wants to include gay leaders – On Tuesday, the 14th largest Scouting chapter, The Western Los Angeles County branch of the BSA announced its stance for the upcoming vote in May. This chapter has over 14,000 members and has asked national BSA to not only lift its ban on gay youth members, but to all leaders, volunteers and staff as well.

“The council declared its position on Tuesday, and called for a “true and authentic inclusion policy”. In doing so, the Los Angeles council joined at least two other branches in New York state, which have pushed for full inclusion of gay scouts and leaders.”

Middle TN Boy Scouts council to vote against allowing openly gay members – Making its announcement Tuesday, The Middle Tennessee Council of the Boy Scouts of America will be voting against the proposal to lift the BSA’s ban on openly gay youth membership in Scouting. The Council stated that it surveyed around 3,000 people and 66% said they were against allowing gay youth into Scouting. Also, they report that 70% of people surveyed said that a straight Scout and a gay Scout should not be allowed in a tent together.

“Sexuality’s not a part of our program,” Travis said. “The parents in Middle Tennessee have said to us, ‘Don’t bring it into Scouting.’ ”

Dave and Joe on the road in UtahFather And Son Bike 1,800 Miles To Protest Boy Scouts – Dave McGrath and son Joe are cycling 1,800 miles across America in support of equality for gay people. The decision to make this ride was made after the BSA announced plans to vote on a proposal to allow gay youth into Scouting, but continue to ban adults aged 18 and over in all forms. Dave McGrath has a twin brother who is gay as well as two gay sons he is riding for. Joes is riding for his family, but says he is also riding for the men and women he served with who were affected by the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy of the military. Dave McGrath has vowed, “to be silent no more”.

Follow their story daily at Old Scouts Promise.

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 07

More on the BSA HQ Honor Ride

Joe McGrath with his bikeDave and Joe McGrath’s Old Scout’s Promise (Facebook page) continues to gain steam after they started their cross-country bike ride last week for equality in Scouting. They even have a new song, The Ride written about their journey.

Veteran, son biking 1,800 miles for gay Scouts (The Salt Lake Tribune).

Eagle Scout takes 1,800-mile stand on Scouts’ policy on gays (Idaho Statesman).

Father-son duo biking in support of gays in Scouts stop in Orem (Provo Daily Herald).

Father, son will bike from Idaho to Texas to support admitting gays into BSA (Fox News 13, Salt Lake City).

May 05

In the News

Richard Kyte: Boy Scouts should welcome gay members – Recently, high school male, Michael, came out that he was gay to family and friends. What was a relief is that is was such a non event. Gallup polls show that about 70% of the public is accepting of gay and lesbian people as part of the diversity of society. Organizations such as the BSA are facing quite a challenge to figure out the right thing to do. If they pass the current resolution is could jeopardize immediate funding, but if this proposal isn’t passed they could devastate the entire future of the BSA.

Scouts chart a new course – Corvallis, Oregon Troop 1 is steeped in tradition and is the oldest troop in Oregon. The troop is struggling to deal with the current controversy within Scouts that bans gays. As one member says,

“They’re just the same as us,” added Nate Olsen, 13. “They’re just guys.”

May 04

In the News

Activists tell Gay Star News they won’t stop until Boy Scouts of America is truly equal – Zach Wahls and Jennifer Tyrrell are two LGBT activists that find themselves at the forefront of the controversial Scouting ban against gay Scouts and leaders. The issue will be voted on later this month, but both Wahls and Tyrrell agree that the proposal made by the BSA is not taking the issue far enough. Both are committed to continue fighting this battle until all LGBT families have the same rights to participate in Scouting as other people do now.

The Mormon Church’s support for gay boy scouts is no surprise at all – A look inside the policies and practices of the Mormon church show that the BSA’s proposal to allow the participation of openly gay youth is actually not going to be any change to their current policies at all. The Mormon church already allows gay adults and youth to obtain full membership within the church as long as they remain completely celibate. They also assign members to be troop leaders, whether they have any interest in Scouting or not, which allows them to prevent any gay adult from ever becoming a Scout Troop leader.

Boy Scouts Demand Anti-Gay Scouting Group Change Logo – John Stemberger, an attorney and the founder of OnMyHonor.net, was recently called out by the BSA for illegally using a Scouting logo as their own and making a profit from selling the patch themselves. Stromberger argued that his organization is a part of the BSA and is therefore not infringing on any copyright patents, but the BSA refused and re-stated that the BSA considers OnMyHonor.net to be an outside (third party) organization. After trying to defend its position as a part of the BSA program, an agreement was reached that OnMyHonor.net would no longer use BSA logos and in its newsletter stated the following:

“NOTE: We have a new logo because our efforts are making a real difference! We received a call from the BSA’s General Counsel telling us that we were a third party violating their copyright by utilizing the BSA “Timeless Values” logo. We responded that we are not a third “outside” party, we are actual members of the BSA simply using a BSA logo to support the policies of the BSA! Although we believed we were not violating any copyright laws, we agreed to change the logo out of respect for the organization. To celebrate the change we are making this special gift patch available. Wear it proudly!

10 Offensive Arguments Against Allowing Gay Boy Scouts – OnMyHonor’s founder, John Stromberger, released an article containing an offensive list of statements aimed at continuing the current anti-gay discriminatory policies being enforced by the BSA at a national level. The list Stromberger released can be viewed via the link above to the article.

Boy Scouts holding Scout-O-Rama fundraiser this weekend – Today in Sandy, Utah the Boy Scouts Great Lakes Council is holding their annual Scout-O-Rama fundraiser. The group lost sponsorship from national chain, Chipotle, who cited differences in discrimination policies as their reason. The withdrawal was specifically due to the BSA’s current discriminatory policies banning gay youth and leaders from participating in Scouting. The Great Lakes Council states that it has had no trouble finding alternate sponsors to fill in the gap and are going forward as planned. The BSA is voting on a new proposal this month that, if passed, would allow gay youth up through 17 years of age to participate in Scouting, but would continue to ban all LGBT people ages 18 and older from any level of participation.

Scouting for justice: Father, son make stop at City Hall for LGBT rights – Father and son team, Dave and Joe McGrath, began the first leg of their journey to fight for equal rights in the LGBT community on Friday, May 3rd. On that first leg they stopped at the Pocatello City Hall to leave a note of protest (a musical note) against Idaho’s failure to pass an anti-discrimination ordinance, that if it had passed, would have provided protection for the LGBT community in many areas of their lives. The twosome (Old Scouts Promise) are riding their bikes 1,800 miles to BSA Headquarters in Irving, TX to post a letter to the headquarters door listing 95 reasons they disagree with the BSA’s current discriminatory policies against gay youth and adults.

Scouts agree to vacate Center City headquarters – In Center City, Philadelphia the Boy Scouts of America’s local chapter, the Cradle of Liberty Council, has reached a settlement with the city and agreed to vacate the premises. This settlement comes after a 5 year legal battle that began due to the BSA’s discriminatory policies against gay youth and adults. This discrimination directly violates Philadelphia’s fair-practices law and the city stated that any organization in conflict with Philly’s law is not allowed to receive benefits from them. The BSA’s local chapter has been using the building for around 84 years, rent free. The local BSA troop had tried to reverse the BSA’s national discriminatory policies at a local level, but was denied by BSA’s national headquarters.

Co-founder of Scouts for Equality to speak at Fellowship meeting

“Leo Giannini, co-founder of Scouts for Equality, an organization fighting to end discrimination in the Boy Scouts, will speak, Sunday, May 5 at 10:15 a.m. at the Berlin Township Community Center in Beach Lake. His speech will be about taking a stand for what people believe in. Giannini lecture entitled, “Taking a stand for Boy Scout Equality” discusses why he decided to take a stand for inclusion and how it has changed the way he approaches every problem or issue he views as wrong.”

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.