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22 November 2002

I probably won't write my yearly letter to the local newspaper urging people not to buy their Christmas trees from the Boy Scout Christmas tree lot. I wonder if people will miss it. What is Christmas in Davis without a ranting letter from Bev?

But it seems that it's all been said, the battle has wound down and both sides have agreed to go to neutral corners and shut up. Nothing is going to change, nobody is going to do anything different, and it is all as it always was.

However, it seems as if more and more people are pointing fingers at the Boy Scouts of America and its discriminatory practices. You can be a neoNazi, a member of Al Queda, have your own little KKK hood and burn crosses on your neighbor's lawn, but don't you let people know that you're gay or that you don't believe in God.

The most recent bit of bigotry concerns Eagle Scout Darrell Lambert, who, by all reports, is an outstanding citizen, an outstanding example of all that is good in scouting. He had earned 37 merit badges, and worked more than 1,000 hours of community service. He doesn't smoke, drink, or take drugs. He has been quartermaster and three time senior patrol leader, assistant scoutmaster, and field leader in training as part of the Search and Rescue Program for the troop in his home town of Seattle.

But this isn't good enough for the BSA. Darrell is being kicked out because he confessed that he doesn't believe in God. It's not that he hid the fact. His local leaders knew that he did not believe in God and he was still awarded the rank of Eagle Scout. But when the BSA higher-ups discovered this athiest in their midst, they ignored all his good works and his good character and out he went. A official is reported to have told Darrell that a person who does not believe in God cannot be a good citizen.

Actually, they didn't oust him immediately. They told him that he could be permitted to remain if he would declare belief in some higher power. What this means is that this organization which purports to be the paragon of good example for the young men of this country has encouraged one of its clean living members to LIE in order to stay in the group.

And isn't that what we want our children to learn?

Or take the case of Mark Noel, who became an Eagle Scout in 1987 and was awarded the Vigil of Honor in 1991, is a former deputy sheriff in Cobb County, Ga., and currently the technology director at the Interactive Media Laboratory at DartmouthCollege.

He has served on the staff for three different Boy Scout summer camps and has been certified by BSA's National Camping School as a shooting sports instructor. Noel was an assistant scoutmaster and Merit Badge counselor for Troop 45 in Hanover until he went public with his homosexuality, in response to the Supreme Court's decision to allow the BSA to discriminate. He was immediately dismissed. Noel felt it was important to go public with his sexual orientation for all the gay young men who, according to the American Medical Association, are at greater risk of suicide because of policies such as those of the BSA which make them feel less worthy than their straight classmates.

I have been involved in the battle to separate local government from this private organization for years. I even carried my first picket sign when a small group of us participated in a silent demonstration (and got a lot of flack from passersby. "Get outta here, ya fucking faggots," shouted one gentleman. A former Scout, I'm sure.

It was, thus, depressing to be part of an on-line discussion recently when a lesbian mother was trying to decide whether to let her son join the Boy Scouts or not. I gave her some statistics and then asked if she would let her son join if the BSA kept out African Americans or Jews. I also pointed out that boys have been kicked out of troops when it was discovered that their parent was gay. Even if the boy himself was not gay.

In the end, she let the boy attend a meeting and the only reason he didn't join was because he found it boring.

I found that pretty depressing. I've seen the people in the gay community here working so hard for equality for all children, not just the straight ones, or the children of straight parents, or the children of non-athiest parents. To listen to the thought process of someone who is, herself, gay who was going to ignore the bigotry and allow her son to participate was just very depressing.

I understand her reason. She's a good mother and there was no alternative in her town and she wanted her son to fit in. But don't all the boys want to fit in? Even the gay ones? Even the athiest ones? How will change ever be made if people look the other way, make allowances, give up?

Sigh. Maybe I'd better write my letter again this year after all.

Quote of the Day

Steven asks all viewers to read page 46 of the new Boy Scout Handbook following ... morally straight ... it reads ... "You should respect and defend the rights of all people" ... Steven says, "now ask yourself, are the Boy Scouts of America violating their own Scout Oath when they discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people?"

~ from Scouting for All

Photo of the Day

This is from 2000



One Year Ago
Starting a Movement
Hey! I've started a movement! A real live movement! I'm so proud!!!

Two Years Ago
Living Through History
The president was dead. The man who had, just a few weeks before, appeared on campus, looking so young and so vibrant, was gone. I remember that day.

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Created 11/19/02