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I received an email this morning from Wayne Brock, the Chief Scout Executive for the Boy Scouts of America. In it, he explained the backtracking decision by the Scouts to study the "complex issue" involving their "membership criteria", without ever using the word "gay", or "homosexual", or "sexual orientation" in describing what the criteria actually say.

Neat trick, I think. Not exactly the kind of transparency that inspires confidence in another review process in addition to the one they claimed they had already spent more than a year in, when they reaffirmed membership criteria that was notable for who it excluded, and not so much who it included.

I've been a scout leader for the past four years, if for no other reason than a selfish one- I like camping, and I love being with my son. I love being with my daughter, which is why I have supported her joining Venture Scouts.

Our family can apparently tolerate dissonance better than the 103 year old Boy Scouts- at one point, my daughter was not only the President of the Venture Scout Troop, but she was also coordinator of the Gay-Straight Alliance at her High School. We believe in working from the inside out to bring about culture change.  Sort of a family ethos.  I don't know if that makes us embarrassingly naive, or unwitting collaborators. I suppose I'd worry more about which it was, if we didn't often see shifts in culture occurring as a result of simply bearing witness and working for change on the inside. Either way, we've been called both.

I think scouting, as an ideal, has a lot offer kids and adults. The values of honesty, kindness, service to community, respect for the environment- even the value of honoring one's own spiritual path, should you choose to have one- all good ideals. And all anti-thetical to the concept that you can practice all those things, and still prevent a youth who is gay from joining the same kids they go to school with, play sports with, and maybe live next door to in the scouting experience. Too much dissonance.

So I responded to Mr. Brock.

Mr. Brock-

I appreciate that the Volunteer Board feels the need to study what it feels is a "complex" issue- one I notice you delicately did not refer to directly.  It doesn't inspire much confidence in your deliberations, if you cannot even say the word "gay" in your communications to the thousands of parents and scouts who are members.

Let me be more clear- I am a Scout Leader, Merit Badge counselor in three areas, and a duly elected member of the Order of the Arrow- my son became a Life Scout before he was fourteen, and is currently holding til he meets the age criteria for Eagle while he plans an Eagle Scout project.

Both he and I feel deeply that what we have gotten from Scouting has been life-changing. To deny that opportunity to other youth, to the 10% of our youth that demographics show will eventually become functional members of our society who happen to also be gay, is to our way of thinking entirely anti-thetical to everything we believe as a Scouting family. It has become very difficult to justify our ongoing involvement in light of our perceived support for a policy that we feel is so at odds with the ideals of scouting.

Please take this as a plea from my son and I to uphold the ideals of scouting- of tolerance, and service to community, of kindness and honesty- and strike this membership policy that excludes young men and adults on the basis of sexual orientation. It is unfair, it diminishes the value of scouting as path to confident independence for our youth, and looks backward, not forward.

Thank you for reconsidering this unfair membership criteria for youth and adult participation. I look forward to the time when scouting is an option for all youth who want to participate.

Troop 21 XXXXXXX

It occurs to me that on the 103rd Anniversary of Scouting, we have an opportunity to look forward and celebrate what will be; and not just look to the past and celebrate what has been.

Originally posted to The Poet Deploreate on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 07:57 AM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight, LGBT Kos Community, and Milk Men And Women.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank you--well said (8+ / 0-)

    I have heard the argument that participating in an organization that discriminates like the scouts would be the same as becoming a member the Nazi youth or the KKK so you could influence change from within. While it is easy to see it that way--the key difference is the main reasons for the existence of the organization in the first place. So while I understand and share the anger and frustration with the boy scouts, I also agree that change is possible/likely and that it is actually because of those scouts and leaders within who participate and are demanding change from within. The next push should be for inclusion of those who do not profess any faith. Those kids/adults also should be able to participate with their peers in what you so aptly describe as a life-changing experience. While I would not force church-based groups to accept those outside their faith - there is no compelling reason to otherwise exclude anyone regardless of their faith or lack thereof from this type of organization. Again, thank you for your contributions to making scouting a more inclusive experience.  

    •  And, maybe... (3+ / 0-)

      One day, in the very far, far distant future, girls will be perceived as equal to boys, and there might be a chance for boys and girls to scout and camp together, and receive the same levels of donations, and the same access, and have the same cultural opportunities.   We're doing it in the military now, so now we know that what we thought was impossible, is, quite amazingly, possible.

      Who knows what could happen in the distant future.

      Right now, our system of separate but equal scouting is separate, but maybe not so equal.


      •  This is what CampFire does, DFW mom; so to some (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DFWmom, JerryNA, RiveroftheWest

        extent does the Girl Scouts organization.

        The current leadership of BSA is not interested in making our sons comfortable in a world with real and diverse people, I'm sad to say.

        LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

        by BlackSheep1 on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 10:37:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Exploring & Venturing is Co-Ed (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis, The Poet Deploreate

        Venture Scouts can earn the "Ranger" award, which is supposed to be on par with BS Eagle and GSUSA Gold Award, but not too many people know about it, since Venturing is only about 12 years old.  

        I had a Co-Ed venture crew - we started it when the Boy Scout troop was starting to fold under the pressure from National to not re-charter our UCC sponsored troop.  

        In the end, we just couldn't keep signing up with an organization that was trying to get us to drop 25% of our members (both youth and adult).    

        But we had 3 pretty good, fun years doing Venturing activities and events.  Nobody earned Ranger while we were operating though.  

        "Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it's only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential." - Barack Obama

        by Ricochet67 on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 08:34:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  The scouting movement, not the organization (2+ / 0-)

      I agree, but would also add that the scouting movement is bigger and more inclusive than the BSA, Inc. -- a point that is often lost in the media coverage and popular debate here.  One reason people want to stay engaged with the BSA, Inc. is that it's the only game in town for delivering a scouting program in the United States (thanks to its Congressional charter).

  •  I will refer you to another nearby org.: (12+ / 0-)

    Scouts Canada.

    Re-posting from yesterday:

    Here in the US, I'd hold up the Girl Scouts as a better example of an organization than BSA.

    Does Scouts Canada Admit Both Boys and Girls?
    Yes, Scouts Canada became completely co-ed in 1998.

    Do You Have to Believe in God to Join Scouts Canada? Is Scouting a Christian Organization?
    No, but you must have a basic spiritual belief. Spirituality has been one of the three main principles of Scouting around the world since its inception more than 100 years ago. Scouts Canada is proud of its commitment to diversity and welcomes members of many different faiths and denominations.

    You need not belong to an organized religion, but all members must take the Scout Promise in good faith and leaders may include some form of spirituality in their program for the youth. “God” represents spirituality and for some may represent an actual deity, but it may also mean an expression of your personal spirituality.

    "Duty to God" as defined by the World Organization of the Scouting Movement, means "a person's relationship with the spiritual values of life, the fundamental belief in a force above mankind."

    Are Homosexuals Allowed to Join Scouts Canada?
    Scouts Canada does not discriminate for reasons of gender, culture, religious belief or sexual orientation

    Now, BSA, how hard is that?

    I'm part of the "bedwetting bunch of website Democrat base people (DKos)." - Rush Limbaugh, 10/16/2012 Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

    by tom 47 on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 10:15:29 AM PST

    •  The religious statement... (5+ / 0-)

      is actually what the Boy Scouts of America holds to as well.  While some churches (especially the LDS) sponsor units, and tweak the Boy Scout system to conform with their own priesthood training, the actual standard for "belief in God" is actually what is listed in the Boy Scouts of Canada statement you quote.  The only "faith exclusion" is for someone who militantly states "There is no god/higher power/spirituality".

      I've served on Eagle Boards of Review, or else acted as the spiritual reference for agnostic Scouts at these BORs.  Even a statement like "I believe there is a spiritual power, but I don't know what it is" is sufficient as an expression of faith, and these boys passed, and are now Eagle Scouts.

      The Scout Law (trustworthy, loyal, helpful...) is a GREAT liberal manifesto.

      by DaytonMike on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 10:29:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  We have a family friend/co-student at my son's (4+ / 0-)

        school, who just finished up his Eagle quals.  He kind of just fudged the "God" part.  His family are UU, and he's at least agnostic, if not plain ol' atheist.  Didn't seem to bother his Board of Review, him, his troop, or his family.

        He'll be at Cornell next year.

        I'm part of the "bedwetting bunch of website Democrat base people (DKos)." - Rush Limbaugh, 10/16/2012 Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

        by tom 47 on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 10:41:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  but the point (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mark Noel

          is not having to fudge--or pretend or otherwise be made to feel like you have to do that to be included---just saying.  

          •  I get it: the kid loves the camping, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            camaraderie, etc.  He just adjusts without making a fuss and ignores the BSA edict.  Others might make a stand on principle, and leave the organization.

            To each his own.  My kid left in 8th grade.

            I'm part of the "bedwetting bunch of website Democrat base people (DKos)." - Rush Limbaugh, 10/16/2012 Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

            by tom 47 on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 02:08:55 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  We've done the same in our council. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JerryNA, DaytonMike

        At least 2 that I know of are Eagles.

      •  When did that change? (0+ / 0-)

        It may have just been local "custom" but I'm curious about the religious statement. When I was a kid and eligible to join, I was discouraged from joining because I was Jewish.

        What separates us, divides us, and diminishes the human spirit.

        by equern on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 12:37:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It was in Scouting from the beginning. (0+ / 0-)

          Lord Baden Powell believed that every young man had to believe in God, a god or some form of spirituality, but he never specified which one.  It's individual units, sponsored by particular churches that get more specific.  LDS churches are required to sponsor Scout units, as they use the Scouting program to train boys as their priests (which include all male adults in good standing with the Mormon faith).

          We've had integrated faiths in adult training courses, including placing an evangelical Christian, two jews and a Muslim in the same patrol.  They all remain good friends.  In our council, the Interfaith Committee "religiously" mandates that all adult worship has to be non-sectarian or interfaith.

          Perversely , the philosophical underpinnings of Scouting ought to repel any fundamentalist Christian.  Scouting believes that positive values can be inculcated into youth by education and good example, a sort of "a boy is basicaly good, but ignorant" about morality.  This directly conflicts with the "fallen nature of man" preached by the fundies.

          The Scout Law (trustworthy, loyal, helpful...) is a GREAT liberal manifesto.

          by DaytonMike on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 01:07:05 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  True That (0+ / 0-)

            The Lutheran Church Wisconsin Synod forbids its members to join the Boy Scouts, on the grounds that they worship a false god.

            The White Race can not survive without dairy products - Herbert Hoover (-8.75,-8.36)

            by alain2112 on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 05:26:59 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  That was local bigotry, not official policy (0+ / 0-)

          I am an Eagle Scout, and have numerous mixed emotions about this whole topic.

          First, according to both Wikipedia and my own (hazy) memory, there has been a Jewish religious award in Scouts since just after WWII:

          The first Protestant religious emblem program was established in 1943 by the Lutheran church as Pro Deo Et Patria. The Jewish Ner Tamid program began in 1944 and the God and Country program used by several Protestant denominations followed in 1945. The 1948 handbook was the first to include the religious emblem programs and it described Roman Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, Buddhist, Lutheran and the general Protestant program.
          I can also second the view that, at least in the three programs I was in, there was no religious orthodoxy required - you just had to be willing to not make a fuss about being an atheist.
    •  Still a problem (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, Mark Noel

      As an atheist, I can buy "spiritual values of life", but I still have a profound objection to "believe in a force 'above' mankind".  Still sounds like a god to me.  So, you are telling me to devote myself to a "force" rather than a "god"?    Still pressuring and pressuring and pressuring us to drink the Christian Kool Aid.  

      It smacks of insecurity.   Why does anyone need to bother themselves with my relationship to forces or gods, if I can assure you that I support the "spiritual values of life".  

      Why can't you just say something like, "I will be honest and ethical and show respect for all living things, and the world which sustains me."

      What does that mean, anyway?   A force above mankind?  It just sounds like another of the many names for "God" to me, and I'm sick of gods and forces being shoved down my throat, and down the throats of my kids.

      The Boy Scouts can take their "force" and shove it.   Nice try, Canada, but no cigar.  The "force" needs to go.

      •  I do believe as more people identify as atheists, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        scouting will have to accomodate that as well.

      •  What would they do with a Buddhist congregation (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        that wanted to have a Boy Scout troop?.  OK, that sounds like an oxymoron, but it might not be in too long.  There are Buddhist recovery groups that AA is fine with even if they're comprised mostly of agnostics and atheists.  Of course, Buddhists aren't Randian nihilists -- they believe in the higher "force" of compassion and the unity of all living things or at least all sentient beings, if you want to make that distinction.  This is the "higher power" that most Buddhists in recovery adopt in Step Two.  And, as an atheistically-inclined agnostic, I have no problem with that.  After all, if you can't believe in THAT higher power, then what IS the objection to Randian atomistic ethics?  And why would anybody who didn't believe in at least that higher power want to join the Scouts anyway?

        Full disclosure: I'm a former Eagle Scout who hasn't sent his badges yet because I can't find them.  It'd be nice if they'd change the policy on gay kids so I wouldn't have to do it if I find them unpacking from my most recent move.  

        •  they'd be welcome (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          with open arms.  There's Bhuddist religious medals for Boy Scouts.  I'm sure there's a Bhuddist troop somewhere.

          The Scout Law (trustworthy, loyal, helpful...) is a GREAT liberal manifesto.

          by DaytonMike on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 03:48:06 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  So how do they square that with the God (0+ / 0-)

            requirement?  Many Buddists don't believe in a God or, more accurately, are functionally agnostic?

            •  To quote from Canada's standard... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              The Poet Deploreate
              “God” represents spirituality and for some may represent an actual deity, but it may also mean an expression of your personal spirituality.

              Even functionally agnostic, as in "I acknowledge a spiritual force in my life, but I don't know what it is" is sufficient.

              The Scout Law (trustworthy, loyal, helpful...) is a GREAT liberal manifesto.

              by DaytonMike on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 01:53:41 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Actually, many agnostics are materialists and (0+ / 0-)

                believe the whole concept of "spirit" is metaphysical hocus-pocus and the idea of a "spiritual force" a philosophical  oxymoron, a position not at all incompatible with a belief in the power of compassion and human connectedness and charity, to which talk of "spirit" adds nothing but intellectual  vagueness.  You can take God out of religion, but I don't see how you can take religion out of "spirituality."

      •  While I belong to a faith group (0+ / 0-)

        I respect your position--and agree that the whole  "higher power" reference generally means "G-d" thing has to stop---and that it does reflect a certain insecurity within faith groups. We should be beyond this type of thing by now. The sponsorship issue -- that religious entities sponsor troops--is a practical stumbling blocks in at least some communities--and that is very unfortunate. And while I think change is coming--the pain caused to many kids because they are excluded due to certain policies still in place and still practiced by some troops is tragic.  

  •  The Scouts offer immense benefits to those (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Poet Deploreate, Viceroy

    who belong.

    It also provides enormous benefits to the businessmen and businesswomen who own and run it.

    Never forget: like "Race for the Cure"  BSA Inc. IS a business ... and their core customer base has more or less gotten over their passion for racial segregation ... but the exclusion of Atheists, "Communists" and Homosexuals is still a strong POSITIVE benefit of "the brand" --

    As you probably know very well ... the local volunteer Scout leadership has no role whatever in influencing National program or policy.  BSA Scouting is an established, successful 'brand' ... it offers a good product -- which you are free to take as offered or look elsewhere for something just as good.

    Your choice: Hobson's Choice.

    And even if every Troop thinking otherwise pulled up stakes and joined Independent Scouting ...  I don't think the National leadership  in Irving Texas would notice, much less care.

    Nor have Scouts or their parents been particularly eager to give up The Real Thing, "just" because of Atheists and LGBTetc. people.  How supportive would the parents in your Troop be about either joining the Independents ... or starting up a completely independent local scout-like club?  Or would it just be easier to find a new Scoutmaster ?

    Personally ... I'm no great fan of Baden-Powellism  -- but the Independents DO offer the camping facilities and jamborees that BSA Inc does. However, they  doesn't enjoy the close organizational relationship with the military service academies and the Chambers of Commerce that the folks at Irving have.

    •  A few things to consider... (3+ / 0-)

      For such a "private" organization, they are very dependent on their non-profit sponsoring organizations and public facilities.  The BSA is on ground much shakier than you seem to realize.

      - The only reason why the BSA is able to continue to use public facilities (like schools and state parks, for example) in counter to anti-discrimination policies, is because of a clause in the Homeland Security Act.   A clause in law is an awfully tenuous legal standing.

      - Major private sector and public sector financial sponsors are withholding cash.  This is putting a huge dent in BSA coffers.  It costs money to run four high adventure camps, numerous summer camps throughout the country, organize jamborees every four years, etc...

      - The second largest sponsoring organization, after the Church of Latter Day Saints, is the United Methodist Church.  Many UMCs are establishing non-discrimination policies.  

      - Thousands (yes thousands) of scout troops have already publically identified as supporting Scouting for Equality or privately hold charters that do not discriminate.   Several councils have signed up with SFE as well.

      - More and more of the official leadership in Scouts supports equality.

      As for the close relationship with the military, the US military no longer discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation, which makes such a close relationship rather problemmatic as time goes by.

    •  the scouts are highly decentralized... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BettytheBoop, DixieDishrag

      in my experience, most councils (regional organizations) are disorganized, inept, and inconsistent in providing support to troops. Our council doesn't even use computers for data base stuff; just for word processing.

      and after watching this decade long circle jerk, i can just assume that the national administration, populated by Peter-prncipled climbers, is equally inept.

      individual troops have existed in a sort of "don't ask, don't tell" limbo for years, admitting who they want.  Our troop has a lot of kids with special needs; for them, it is truly a wonderful experience.

      although we are "sponsored" by a Catholic church, I can honestly say that there is no influence wielded by them; scout leaders don''t spend a lot of time probing anyone's spiritual journey, or whether they have one.

      I don't know if we are the norm, or the exception. But the rule of thumb seems to be the less you deal with the council the better, and we have absolutely no dialogue or relationship with the national organization.

      that said, don't ask don't tell has outlived whatever usefulness it may have had. our troop takes the John Lennon approach to spirit- if these kids believe in themselves, that's good enough for us.  

      This change is inevitable; and after spending three consecutive summers with 500 plus kids and leaders at a weeklong summer camp, I can only affirm this- whatever the issue may be for the national board, there isn't any issue within those local troops that i met and spoke with.

      the bizarre secret is that the change has already happened in many troops. they are open, and affirming, and diverse and there is no turning back from that.

      "When you're skating on thin ice, you might as well dance." Jesse Winchester

      by The Poet Deploreate on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 01:21:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  We had a similar experience. (3+ / 0-)

        Our troop was (and still is) chartered by a Presbyterian church. There was no influence exerted on us by either the chartering organization or the council/national organization. We sent our money in, admitted who we wanted into the troop, and ran our own program. We adhered to the safety and youth protection rules set down by the BSA, but that was pretty much it.

        After my son got his Eagle and aged out, I started volunteering for the local district as their representative at Eagle Boards of Review. That was very enjoyable and satisfying... until we had a meeting of all the BOR reps and spent the whole time talking about what to do if a boy announced during a BOR that he was gay or athiest. I went home from that meeting and realized that I could potentially be put into a horrible situation if that happened, and I resigned. Regrettable, but I wasn't willing to risk being involved in preventing a deserving boy from getting his Eagle.

        Change will come. Change is inevitable. I just wish kids weren't getting hurt while it slowly happens.

        The 99% believe corporations are not people. The 1% believe the 99% are not people.

        by DixieDishrag on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 08:10:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  very difficult (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          i haven't had that experience yet. i honestly don't know if sticking around and making the argument for acceptance and looking at how consistently the eagle applicant has adhered to every expectation of rank would have an impact or not. I have been in similar "losing" situations before, where I argued a point and lost- and have often found, over time, that I didn't really lose, I was accidentally prescient- that what I was arguing should be the norm eventually became the norm.  That sometimes makes it easier for me to stand there and deliver an unpopular (or pre-popular) ;) perspective.

          Maybe the transition step is to ensure that each Eagle Board is required to record a dissenting opinion by a participatory member of the Board of Review.

          The change is inevitable; it has actually already happened- the national scouts administrators simply can't see that yet.

          "When you're skating on thin ice, you might as well dance." Jesse Winchester

          by The Poet Deploreate on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 07:41:51 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  The independent groups also don't have (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Poet Deploreate

      rights to "Eagle" rank.  And any boy who earns Eagle and then goes in to the miliary is bumped 1 pay grade automatically, because of the Eagle.  

      Having Eagle Scout on your resume used to open a LOT of doors - in college, in the military, in job interviews.  

      Nobody else has the clout of the Eagle rank.  

      But BSA has to rethink this all now - the military has lifted its ban and with their ties to Scouting (even minimally, through pay grade bumps for Eagles), BSA must consider lifting the ban themselves.  

      "Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it's only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential." - Barack Obama

      by Ricochet67 on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 10:39:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  my response (5+ / 0-)

    I had the same reaction.
    (sent yesterday)

    I am disappointed in the organization that once gave me so much.

    Dithering on a civil rights issue isn't Brave as I was taught it in Scouting. Who you love has no bearing on your ethics and quality as a person. Scouting should recognize that the values it teaches should be offered to all boys, regardless of sexual orientation.

    Leaving it up to the troops makes sense only in deference to the individual sponsoring groups aligned with the troops, such as churches. Otherwise, this is simply giving bigots more time.


    (name withheld)
    Eagle Scout

    If only Michael Phelps hadn't smoked that pot...imagine what he could have accomplished with motivation and good lung capacity.

    by papa monzano on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 10:56:53 AM PST

  •  I cling to what Zach Wahls said yesterday. (2+ / 0-)

    "If they had the votes to kill it, they would have done so."

    Hopefully, this is one, last gasp.

  •  Why it bothers the most (5+ / 0-)

    So here's the part the bothers me the most.

    Scouting is for KIDS, right? Yes, I know scouting encourages parent involvement too, but essentially it revolves around kids. So yes, I know the parents of scouts are involved, and even adults who want to mentor them.

    Although I'm sure it's more common now, but how many kids of scouting age are actually THAT sure of their sexuality???

    So the thing that BOTHERS me about this whole situation is that most likely kids are getting KICKED OUT of scouting after having been involved for investing YEARS into it, just when they need advice, mentoring, and support the most.

    That's GOT to hurt. How cruel can we be?

    What separates us, divides us, and diminishes the human spirit.

    by equern on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 12:40:58 PM PST

    •  Exactly (4+ / 0-)

      A tiger cub or cub scout is very unlikely to even have a sense of what their sexuality is. And by the time the get to puberty in boy scouts, they've already invested years of their life.  And then it's up to the organization they are in whether they can participate anymore when they realize the nature of their sexuality?  And then be rejected? Cruel and unusual.

      ~ Nothing insightful to say ~

      by EagleOfFreedom on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 04:18:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The point (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        is that these eagle applicants have done everything they needed to meet rank expectations, they have achieved every competency required- and they have done that with the full support of their peers and of adults who have served as the kinds of role models for tolerance and acceptance that should be expected.  And no local Board of Review, no dithering regional council, no tone-deaf, self-important, organically anachronistic national board of volunteers can touch that- can undo that.

        Changing culture is like riding shotgun on a glacier. It moves slowly, but it moves.

        "When you're skating on thin ice, you might as well dance." Jesse Winchester

        by The Poet Deploreate on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 07:45:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Don't forget young kids with same sex parents (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DMiller, The Poet Deploreate

      My nephew is Tiger Cub age and he has two moms.  

      HE'S allowed to join up, but Tigers require parent participation and Cub Scouts needs family participation (they don't do the independent troop camping that the older Boy Scouts do).  

      How is he supposed to join when his moms are not allowed to participate?  At least not together and not even alone if they are out - which they are.  

      Nobody thinks it's odd that he has two moms.  All of his friends in school just know he has two moms, just like some of his friends have two dads or a mom and a dad, or only one parent, or even grandparents raising them.  They just know it's their family.  

      He certainly doesn't understand why a group of people who get together to have fun, go camping, race Pinewood Derby cars and build crooked birdhouses for Mother's Day or Father's Day would not want his family around, when other kids' families are welcome.  He has no preconceived notions of what makes the "right" kind of family - no kid at that age does, unless they've been indoctrinated early into prejudice and intolerance.  

      "Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it's only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential." - Barack Obama

      by Ricochet67 on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 10:50:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  'Change from within" in BSA is 'difficult' (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Poet Deploreate, Ricochet67

    Though the volunteers in BSA do all the real work - running units, camps and all else, the PAID staff maintain tight control.

    In theory the paid head (Scout Executive) of a local council is hired by the Board which represents the volunteers and exists to serve the volunteers BUT in reality the paid head often handpicks boards and can tightly control a local council - to the point of staying in charge of a Council forever (if no other opportunities open up).  There's a name for this - commemorating the first guy to pull it off.

    In Councils where the volunteers have tried to get their own representatives elected to boards, to truly run their own councils, BSA has fought like mad.  Ask Greater Chicago where volunteers fought against the closing of one of BSA's oldest camps.  The managed to vote out the Board who had backed the Scout Exec but BSA National stepped in and took charge.

    BSA National has made it near impossible for its members to have any real say in how the organization is run.  The paid staff (at the upper levels) are VERY well paid and are NOT readily disposed to give up their sinecures.  

    This whole situation is made possible by the Congressional Charter given to BSA.  In the beginning there were more than one 'Scouting' groups - BSA got COngress to give it a monopoly - one it vigorously defends - to the point they tried to keep GSA (a totally separate organization) from using the term 'Scout'.

    In our council (a suburban one outside a major city) we had a SE that sold off one of our prime properties over the vehement objections of volunteers.  He stacked the board with his choices - non-Scout politicians and businessmen who deferred to HIM - while removing long term Scouters.  We had over two hundred volunteers walk away - disgusted with the situation.  The Board literally ran out of one meeting when confronted with nearly a hundred volunteers objecting to the way things wer run.  One volunteer had his membership revoked - a common tactic to silence dissent (BSA is more likely to throw out critics than abusers, sadly).  He sued - and lost (BSA being a 'private organization can do as it wants) but his suit exposed the SE's lies.  The paid head had faked membership numbers (a too common occurrence) - this was made very clear.  BSA audited the Council and said 'procedures had been followed' - but it was clear to volunteers and even the Board that the numbers were 'questionable' at best.

    The paid Scout Exec - widely reviled - left only when his contract was up (after 5 years of damage) but remained in BSA though his previous Council hated him as much as we did.

    The irony is that this paid person was doing exactly what BSA wanted - increased membership numbers (though fraudulently) and raised bank account levels (by selling valuable property even as donations dropped).  

    BSA has had scandal after scandal ove membership number claims, property sales and more (along with all the covered-up abuse).  Yet invariably, those that tried to do the 'right' thing were punished and those that played the BSA game were rewarded.  

    A few years back there were scandals in the news every month over bogus membership numbers - that still continues though under the radar.   Membership numbers continue to fall but are very important to BSA for  justifying paid salaries and soliciting donations.  

    The problem is that any time people try to hold BSA paid staff accountable they go into 'defensive mode'.   They attack those making accusations and claim they're being persecuted.  BSA is VERY good at hiding behind God and the Flag.

    BSA's top paid 'leaders' forst priority is holding onto THEIR very well paid jobs and benefits.   If you undersand that you understand everything.

    The whole 'gay' issue comes down to BSA selling their soul to the LDS to get a guaranteed influx on members  - they are trying NOT to alienate them and other conservative churches - though one of the reasons the issue is being reconsidered is the continuing loss of other chartering organizations - the Methodists in particular.  

    Life isn't fair but you should try to leave it fairer than you found it.

    by xrepub on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 07:06:22 PM PST

    •  thoughtful and insightful (0+ / 0-)

      i'm sure those kinds of sweetheart real estate transactions happen quite a bit with the boy scouts.

      you wouldn't happen to be from New England, by any chance.

      the story sounds very familiar.

      "When you're skating on thin ice, you might as well dance." Jesse Winchester

      by The Poet Deploreate on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 07:49:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, they sold our camp (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Poet Deploreate

        to SFWMD's Forever Florida program for millions.  

        6,000 acres of the most unique ecosystem in the state that had been purchased at a huge discount in the late 1960's by South Florida Council.  

        McGregor Smith Scout Reservation.  They got it cheap because they named it after the guy that sold it to them (I think he was a bigwig with FPL).  My Explorer Post were charter campers, before any facilities were built.  Our dads helped with the construction of the rifle range and the guest cabins and the canoe base buildings the second year the Post camped there.  

        Everybody that protested the sale / disposal of the property in 2004-05 was "fired" from their volunteer positions, including volunteers of considerable rank (OA Advisors / Council level committee volunteers) and many, many years in Scouting.  

        Swiftmud paid $13.5-million for the large parcel, which had been owned by the scouts since 1969 when they purchased it for $1-million. The site includes 3.7 miles of frontage along the Withlacoochee River.

        Since SFWMD has had it, they've decided their environmental program wasn't going to get off the ground, so they leased it back to the scouts - they offered it to our council first and were turned down.  

        Gulf Ridge Council took them up on the offer.  It is a jewel.  It was our favorite place - my son told me that, unless he finds a better place in his lifetime, he wants his ashes scattered along the river there.  He's 32.  He spent 10 summers living there and 5 working there on staff as a teen and a young adult in college.  Hundreds of kids his age and hundreds more that are my age were so upset when they sold it.  

        This property was purchased from the South Florida Council, Inc., Boy Scouts of America in 2004 to preserve and protect water resources, ecological values and cultural and historical resources. This property is adjacent to the Flying Eagle Preserve that together encompasses 16,334 acres of protected lands. The property is heavily wooded with native vegetation and is composed of approximately 41 percent uplands and 59 percent wetlands and streams. The eastern portion of the property is bordered by the Withlacoochee River for approximately three miles.

        In 2006, the District entered into a lease agreement with the Gulf Ridge Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Under the agreement, the Gulf Ridge Council manages 580 acres of the McGregor Smith tract. All recreational opportunities on the tract lie within this leased area. The Gulf Ridge Council uses the lands for compatible recreational opportunities and environmental education programs associated with the operation of a youth center.

        They "said" they were going to use the funds to fix up our local camp in South Florida which was devastated by Hurricane Wilma, but they used a large portion of the funds to "improve" the Scout offices in Dade County.  Then they started begging for capital contributions to fix up the local camp.  The hurricane was 7 years ago - it took them that long to get it reopen - they claim they spent $12MM to restore / rebuild it.  It's pretty close to home for me, I can drive there within a half hour, but it's no 6,000 acres of pinelands, swamp, gator holes, nesting areas for Sandhill cranes and a major Seminole archeological site that was excavated and documented by UF (Tatham Mound) like McGregor Smith is.  The local camp is on the outskirts of the city.  Can't even work on astronomy merit badge very well - but at McGregor - the stars were so clear and we were so far away from any big town that it looked like somebody had spilled salt in the sky - a literal blanket of stars.  My kids were always amazed at how many stars you could really see, once you were away from the city.  

        My son and I both did our OA ordeals there.  We both have wonderful memories of sleeping under that blanket of stars and watching the dawn come on the Grand Prairie.  

        "Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it's only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential." - Barack Obama

        by Ricochet67 on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 11:20:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  This gay Eagle Scout... (2+ / 0-)

    supports your efforts to change the horrific bigoted discriminatory policy from the inside!

    Since when has there been an "age" requirement to attain Eagle??  I became an Eagle Scout at age 13 - is there "ageism" now in Scouting as well as homophobia and religious bigotry??

    Take your son to Philmont!!!!  And do the national jamboree too if you can!

    Thanks to President Obama, the Iraq War is Over!

    by Viceroy on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 08:52:30 AM PST

    •  And... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Poet Deploreate

      Reading these diaries has inspired me to join Zach Wahl's Scouts for Equality group - I just joined and will write a letter/e-mail to the BSA expressing my views.

      Thanks to President Obama, the Iraq War is Over!

      by Viceroy on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 09:50:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  He can do the work (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Viceroy, BettytheBoop

      but according to the Handbook, can't submit until he has been a life scout for 6 months- I am pretty sure the expectation is fourteen and a half.

      great you made Eagle at 13-

      and thanks for supporting the effort to move the mountain to Mohammed from within- like i've said, on the local level, i think the change is both well under way, and cannot be reversed.

      "When you're skating on thin ice, you might as well dance." Jesse Winchester

      by The Poet Deploreate on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 01:21:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A contrarian viewpoint (to a limited extent) (0+ / 0-)

    I fully support the notion that Scouting should get over the whole "Gays are Evil" stance. However, I'm reluctant to have a point where private organizations are not free to decide who their target audience is. In particular, I really think that Scouting should be able to say "this is for people who adhere to our (vague) spritual requirements." Otherwise, you end up with the situation where any minority viewpoint is going to be pushed out of ALL private organizations, which is bad news in many cases.

    I have to run, but I think we need to distinguish between this particular policy and the notion that Scouting (or any other group) shouldn't be allowed to make unpopular choices about membership.

    •  Except (0+ / 0-)

      that the scouts (as I understand it) have a government granted monopoly situation---and, therefore they are often the only game in town of its kind. And given that they are not based in and/or affiliated with a specific group/church/political perspective,...given the goals of scouting--there is no justification for these types of exclusionary policies.

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