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2000:  Light Just One Little Candle
2001:  Inertia Challenge
2002:  Sex and Tim Tams
2003:  The Glass Man Cometh
2004I'm Too Sensitive

2005:  Sensitivity
2006: Yan Yuhuan Gets Drunk
2007: Mabel Finds a Home
2008: Anybody Can...?
I Can't Even Imagine
2010:  Loss and Disappointment
2011:  See Your Impact

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Now Change"

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mail to Walt


7 October 2012

The ugliness of bigotry and intolerance, which never really went away, but seemed silent for awhile, has once again reared its ugly head here in Northern California.

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A young man named Ryan Andresen, of Moraga, California, has been a member of the Boy Scouts of America for the past 12 years, since he was six years old.  His dream has been to become an Eagle Scout and he has worked toward that goal for 12 years.

But the problem is that in July Ryan came out as gay.  According to a petition circulated by his mother, Ryan had been a victim of bullying in his Scout troop and thus chose, as his final project for his Eagle badge a "tolerance wall" at a local school, a collection of 288 tiles painted by elementary children depicting acts of kindness.

ryan_andresen_wall.jpg (58163 bytes)

A cheery smile and a helping hand make life easier for others.
By doing a Good Turn daily and helping when you're needed,
you prove yourself a Scout and do your part to make this a better world.

According to its website, Ryan's troop is sponsored by a local Presbyterian church and counts more than 75 active members aged 11 to 18.  Ryan surprised even his parents when he came out publicly in a letter to the troop in which he stood up for another scout who was bullied.

Boy Scouts of America spokesman Deron Smith indicated in a statement that Andresen's Eagle Scout Badge has been denied and his Boy Scouts membership had been revoked.

Being morally straight means to live your life with honesty,
to be clean in your speech and actions,
and to be a person of strong character.

Once again, in an era where there is much light being brought to the issue of bullying, the Boy Scouts of America has come out in favor of bullying one of its own.   It has taught its members that it's OK to be mean to someone who is different, to ignore 12 years of hard work because a boy of strong character dares to be honest about himself, and to stick up for someone else within the troop who is being bullied.  If he had remained quiet, lied about his sexual orientation, chances are he would have received his award by now. 

So the Boy Scouts of America has shown its members that if you are truthful you can be punished. If you are honest about yourself, you can be bullied.

You know, many years ago I participated in a protest against the Boy Scouts of America here in Davis.  We stood on a street corner with our signs and we were approached by many students from the University who were from other countries and who had belonged to Scouting in their own countries.  None of them could understand what the big deal about being gay was, since it was not even an issue in Scouting worldwide.

I myself was a Scout leader when our kids were young and there was no rule that I ever knew about excluding anybody (except girls) from Boy Scouts.  The ban on gay and atheist boys and leaders was not put into the laws until 1991 (when leadership was taken over by the Mormons, I understand). 

In 2003, the Supreme Court upheld the BSA's right to deny membership to gay children.  It's legal to discriminate.  But just because it's legal does it make it right?

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(And if you want to find out how your tax dollars help sponsor this "legal discrimination" check this web site)

This issue is causing much pain for parents of boys in Scouting in the San Francisco area, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.  Parents want their children to have the Scouting experience but do not want to show support for the homophobic policies of the organization.  I have friends who are still Scout leaders and children of friends who are in Scouting and I have a difficult time with that. It's one thing to have a good time with a bunch of kids, but each time you do, you are tacitly agreeing with the treatment of boys like Ryan. I feel so strongly about how wrong this is and frustrated that there seems to be no viable alternative for parents who want their kids to join other boys to wear uniforms, earn badges, and go camping together.

But, as ineffective as I fear it will be, I have signed Ryan's mother's petition to get him his earned Eagle Scout award and I hope that if you feel as strongly as I do about how wrong this all is, you will join the >300,000 people who have already signed and let Ryan know that you are behind him and sign the petition too.

What if this were your son or your grandson...?


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