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Today in My History

2000: Where Have You Gone, Jimmy Dean?
2001:  Slacker Routines
2002:  Big Brother is Listening
2003:  Good Friday
2004:  Debunking the Myth
2005:  Like Sands through the Hourglass

2006:  Screaming at the TV
2007: All's Fair in Love and Cards
2008:  The "Good" People
2009:  A Weird Meme
2010:  Save Me a Seat
2011:  Old Friends
2012: The Un-Traveled Life

Bitter Hack
: 4/10
"Billy Elliot"

Books Read in 2013
 Updated: 4/12
"Along The Way"

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Brianna's 5th Birthday
Lacie's Christening

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mail to Walt


19 April 2013

A few months back, the Boy Scouts of America considered lifting their ban on gay scouts and leaders when public outrage shined a spotlight on their discriminatory policies.

They'll only end this discrimination if they know that public spotlight isn't going anywhere.

This coming Tuesday, the Scouts' Executive Committee will send out a resolution to the 300 local scouting councils on whether to allow gay scouts, which they'll vote on at their annual meeting next month.

For several years, I boycotted the Boy Scout Christmas Tree Lot here in Davis, writing a letter to the editor each year.  The local Scouts would answer it and people still bought their trees at the Scout lot because they knew Scouts, they liked Scouts.

I stopped writing my letter as it seemed like an exercise in futility and the Scouts had moved its lot from mid-town Davis to South Davis, where I never saw it anyway.

Whenever I wrote my letter, the local leaders would respond, saying that they also did not believe in the ban and, in fact, they did not follow it.  (I have no proof whether or not this is actually true).

I've thought about that a lot and decided that not following the ban may be as bad as the discrimation itself.

Many years ago, I joined Ellen and Shelly in picketing the local Scout Cabin, which belonged to the City of Davis and which was used for Scout activities.   Our point was that city funds should not be used to provide anything to groups which disciminate.  Ultimately the Scout cabin was closed and I don't know how (or if) the city supports the Scouts these days.

But while we were picketing, I learned something interesting.   This being a university town, many students from other countries passed by our little group, huddled together on the corner receiving hateful epithets from Scout supporters.  The foreign students couldn't understand what the fuss was all about because in their country (and this was true of all of the students from many countries who talked with us), gender is not an issue in Scouting membership or leadership.  Nobody can see any reason why being gay should a deterrent to being a Scout or leading a Scout group.

According to the BSA, religious organizations comprise 70 percent of its sponsoring organizations. Mormons, United Methodists and Catholics — the three largest groups — sponsored more than 1 million of the current 2.6 million Scouts in 2011.  This religious leadership was not in place when I was leading Scouts here in the 1980s, I don't believe.  At least I never heard of it.

The American Boy Scout Executive Council says that no boy who is athiest or gay can be a Scout and that no man who is athiest or gay can be a Leader (though what religion or sexual orientation has to do with camping and making smores I don't know!)  The BSA has taken away Eagle Scout awards from boys who have come out, and recently denied Eagle Scout award to a young man who had been working toward it since he was 8, long before he realized his sexual orientation.

This is clearly discriminatory.  In this country we do not discriminate on the basis of religion or sexual orientation and clearly, while the Supreme Court has upheld the BSA's right to discriminate, it is wrong for them to receive any federal or local governmental funding, to use public buildings, or in any way benefit from anything that is funded by taxpayer money (though they are still receiving these benefits in many places).

The local leaders in this area have said that they ignore the policy and that a boy or man can belong to the Scouts if they are athiest or gay.

But think about it.  If they follow the policy they are teaching young boys that not everyone is equal, that some kids are better than other kids, that some kids are "less than" and that it's OK to feel that way.

Not good, and possibly even dangerous in this era where bullying has escalated so much.

But is the opposite any better?  They ignore the rule and let gays and athiests participate.  Good, right?  Well, not really.  What they are teaching young boys is that rules don't matter and that if you don't like a rule, you don't have to follow it.

Really, that's not good either. 

If you think about the Boy Scouts as just doing fun stuff and camping and all that, it may seem that it's not important, but the older the boys get the more likely they are to be influenced by whatever decision their leaders make.  The only logical thing to do is for the BSA to fall in line with the rest of the world and lift the ban on athiest and gay members.

If you feel as strongly about this as I do (or even if you feel at all positive about it), you can go to this web site to sign a petition which will be delivered to the BSA before they send out their resolution to the 300 local scouting councils on whether or not to allow gay and athiest scouts, which they will vote on at the annual meeting next month.

This ban hurts kids and undermines key Scouting values, like helpfulness, kindness, friendliness, and courteousness.  It's time to send a message of inclusion -- not discrimination.  You know--like the rest of the world does.


RyanA.jpg (45065 bytes)

Ryan Andresen, a teen who was denied the rank of Eagle Scout because he is gay,
says his scoutmaster won't respond to his calls or emails.

He has been working toward that honor since he was 8.

I'd love it if you'd leave a comment!

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