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LAPD drops ties with the Boy Scouts

Timothy Kincaid

December 28th, 2009

boyscoutsIn 2000, the Boy Scouts of America went to the US Supreme Court to defend their right to exclude members based solely on their sexual orientation. And since that time, they have insisted that all scout troops – even those in which the community, the scout leaders, and the parents wish otherwise – expel and exclude gay scouts and leaders. They also exclude atheists and agnostics.

I support their right to do so. Generally, I believe that membership based social organizations should be free to grant or deny membership based on whatever arbitrary or ridiculous reason they wish, even if it be odious and hateful. Even if I believe the policy to be ill conceived and harmful.

But they should not do so with my tax dollars.

And, increasingly, the Scouts have been discovering that the cost of their exclusionary policy is not an inconsequential one. There has been a steady stream of cities that have severed ties or revoked special privileges which the organization had enjoyed. No longer does the City Berkeley provide free berthing to the Sea Scouts. The City of San Diego revoked its $1 lease on a portion of Balboa Park, and the City of Philadelphia evicted the Scouts from a city owned building.

Of course, those who demand their right to discriminate often are outraged and indignant when they think that they are on the other side of the equation. So the Boy Scouts have sued in each of these cases, claiming that revoking their special privileges and taxpayer sponsored handouts is (you saw it coming) discrimination against them.

Yet with each passing year, they are discovering that local governments and institutions give less leeway to the Scouts. Their blind insistence on defining themselves as a religious organization free to disassociate the ungodly also puts them at conflict with establishment of religion issues.

And, frankly, more and more, their pigheadedness is seen as distasteful. Civic institutions don’t want to put gay elected officials or employees in the uncomfortable position of having to deal with a group that considers them not to be “clean” or “morally straight”. And it feels burdensome of the Scouts to put them in this position.

So this organization, once revered and considered an integral part of American youth, is increasingly give the heave-ho. And the latest to sever connections with the Scouts is the Los Angeles Police Department (Daily Breeze).

Since 1962 the Explorers, a program for youth who wish to become police officers, has been affiliated with the Boy Scouts. That will end on Friday; the Police Commission has voted to change the name of the program and cease using the Scout affiliated insurance service (the LAPD has administered the program itself for the past decade).

Commissioner Robert Saltzman, who is openly gay, said that because he cannot support the Boy Scouts, he has invested a lot of time to ensure the new youth program is “as good or – I’m confident – better than the program it replaces.”

“The Boy Scouts are clear that they discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity and religion, and the result of that is I could not be active on the Boy Scouts,” Saltzman said.

None of this is a happy resolution. The Scouts are weaker, the program is less respected, ad hoc solutions are pasted about in attempts to keep programs operating, and children are now less connected to their local governments. All the good that comes from connecting with nature, teaching values by example, efforts for self improvement and a call to selflessness has now been tainted by exclusion, discrimination, and recrimination.

All so that some ultra-religious administrators can self-righteously declare that only good god-fearing heterosexuals can be associated with their organization. Oh, and all this sadness and destruction is justified because their bigotry is “for the children”.

Comments

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John
December 28th, 2009 | LINK

Congrats to the LAPD and to all the kids who wanted to feel welcome in this program.

Burr
December 28th, 2009 | LINK

I had no idea they were so closely affiliated with so many government organizations and received such benefits. Glad to see the tide has turned so thoroughly against them.

Emily K
December 28th, 2009 | LINK

“for the children,” eh? So in other words, I suppose a person could not be a scout leader if they had a special affinity for nude portraits of underage boys.

–what’s that you say? the founder of the Scouting Movement had exactly that? Hmm. Interesting.

Richard Rush
December 28th, 2009 | LINK

“. . . and the City of Philadelphia evicted the Scouts from a city owned building.”

Well, yes, an eviction notice was issued several years ago, but the Scouts are still in the building. The case is still tied up in the courts.

Edwin
December 28th, 2009 | LINK

The Boy Scouts got as bad as the churches about teaching and preaching their hate. They all need to get evicted from every place that is paid for with tax dollars.

Joe Perez
December 29th, 2009 | LINK

Saltzman has really stuck himself out there for principle, and deserves our recognition and support.

Rob
December 29th, 2009 | LINK

Why should the BSA have a monopoly on the term ‘scouting’? They have a congressional charter turning this generic term into a legitimate trademark. Not just that they shouldn’t use tax dollars, but special benefits from the government as well. Revoke the charter!

Mr. HCI
December 29th, 2009 | LINK

I was a Boy Scout from age 11 to 18, then a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster from age 18 to 19, when I was home from college and could help out with my troop.

In the two troops of which I was a member, I held almost every youth leadership position: Troop Historian, Patrol Leader, Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, Senior Patrol Leader. I may have been Troop Quartermaster at some point, as well; I honestly don’t remember.

In addition to holding leadership positions, I was inducted into the Order of the Arrow and earned my Eagle rank (the highest rank possible in the Boy Scouts).

In many ways, I was the model Scout. Scouting was also probably the only place I ever really felt like I belonged, as a child.

Yet because I am gay, I am worthy of nothing other than contempt. It matters not that I am probably considerably less promiscuous than many in Scouting, including leaders. It matters not that I never would’ve dreamed of trying to take advantage of a younger boy* in either of my troops.

All that matters is I like penises and am repulsed by vaginas (I love women, just not their girl parts).

I hate that something that was such a huge part of my youth would’ve been denied me, had I not been deeply closeted at the time. I hate that an organization that can do so much good can willfully reject boys and men who could potentially gain so much from Scouting.

I hate that I cannot in good conscience support Scouting because of this. Endorsing a group that would refuse me as a member for something intrinsic to my being would be sheer insanity.

*OK, there was a boy in one of my troops for whom I had the major hots, but I never acted on my feelings, even after he asked one day if I was gay. I would never try to take advantage of someone.

Lynn David
December 29th, 2009 | LINK

Interesting Mr. HCI, I did not make Eagle, but your experience and mine with Scouting are quite alike. I actually was a scoutmaster at 19. Yes, not supposed to be, but the Scout committee at our Catholic Church trusted me enough to ask me to fill the position for a couple of years before I left for college. We had two rather obvious gay people in our troop while I was a young member (I don’t count myself there). And yet, I found our troop to be rather egalitarian. It is sad that Scouting lost that characteristic and also the chance to give all boys the experiences of a Scout and also those experiences with their fathers.

It’s odd that it is the Mormons, who also stepped into Scouting’s leadership, who are touting the Nicolosian line about the lack of a father figure creating a homosexual male that they should then deny that experience through Scouting. Well, less odd than just sad.

Jason D
December 29th, 2009 | LINK

Lynn, perhaps the rationalization is that once someone declares themselves to be gay, no amount of fathering will change this.

Or they could just be jerks.

Christopher Waldrop
December 29th, 2009 | LINK

As a former Scout myself (who also made Eagle, and served as an assistant Scoutmaster)I’ve had a lot of trouble with the BSA’s position on both homosexuality and atheism and agnosticism. If I remember correctly there was a bill put up in Congress either by Jesse Helms or supported by Helms that would cut off funding to any school that didn’t allow the Boy Scouts to use its facilities. I don’t know if the Boy Scouts actively lobbied for such a law, but it was really the final straw. Punishing schools for refusing to allow a discriminatory organization to use their facilities was ridiculous.

I realize cities and other places revoking their ties might not necessarily cause the BSA to change its policies, but I believe there are alternative organizations that don’t discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or religion (or lack of it). I hope those organizations will be able to step in and fill the gap created by the BSA being kicked out.

Clark Baker
December 29th, 2009 | LINK

As a proud former Cub Scout, Explorer and USMC sergeant who retired from the LAPD in 2000, I wholeheartedly support the departure of BSA from ALL government organizations – including the LAPD.

Despite my love and appreciation for all of those organzations, the infestation of liberal politicians during the 1990s turned what was once the most professional law enforcement agency in the world into something I never would have joined in 1980.

LA politicians up to Frank Shaw showed Angelenos what happens when corrupt mayors control their chiefs of police. Rodney King illustrated what happens when politicians tells cops how to take violent suspects into custody and Willie Williams showed us what happens when politicians appoint incompetent chiefs of police to destroy a police department. Despite my love of protecting and serving LA residents, I left with my “20 years and 20 minutes” in 2000 because the LAPD no longer met my professional standards.

For the Boy Scouts of America, parting ways with the LAPD makes sense. I’ve enjoyed working with all of the gay officers I was assigned with and, to their credit, none of them made an issue of being gay. But I can also appreciate a parent’s 1st Amendment right to affiliate their children with organizations that still have standards. The LAPD is clearly no longer one of them. The LAPD’s loss is BSA’s gain.

FYI – the book LA Noir is a terrific and accurate portrayal of the LAPD’s evolution into professionalism – a juxtaposition of the LAPD’s current decline.

http://www.amazon.com/L-Noir-Struggle-Americas-Seductive/dp/0307352072

Tina
December 29th, 2009 | LINK

my hope is that, among the BSA’s many admirable values, would be the recognition and championing each boy’s dignity and worth.

Regan DuCasse
December 29th, 2009 | LINK

Sad to say, the BSA has allowed their discriminatory ideology to damage their reputation and support through various professional orgs and tax supported property.

I have served as member of the LAPD also and support this action. I have respected and supported the honorable work and protection of gay members of the LAPD and other law enforcement agencies. The city should not support any group whose discrimination policy is in direct conflict with a secular government, and taxes that are contributed by gay citizens.

I’m a native born resident of Los Angeles and the changes within the department are not happy ones. Whether it came to neglect and self interests of the city government, to continually looking to outsiders because of the incompetence of the same.
The BSA chooses to ignore the talent and commitment of gay boys in their organization and chooses to deny gay boys vital structure and discipline.

Why they don’t see that there are no winners here, I can’t understand.

Ben in Oakland
December 29th, 2009 | LINK

Ah, the Boy scouts, one of my favorite topics, and further proof– as if we needed any– that all of this jawing on and on about morality is just that–insensate, unreasoning, unthinking, and ultimately, destructive jawing. Lots of unintended and quite opposite to the intended consequences.

Back when I was fighting against the Briggs Initiative I spent a week researching the issue of child sexual abuse. The figures 30 years ago and now are remarkably consistent. 97% of the perps are men, though this has been disputed and could be as low as 90%. As much as 30% of the children that are molested are boys, though the figure was 10% in 1978, but thought to be higher.

It was true 30 years ago, and seems to be true now, that 50% of all child molestation, male and female, is done by the father, step-father, or father surrogate– men who identify as Heterosexual in terms of their interests and experience.

Another 25 to 30% is done by a family member, or by a friend of the family, such as a Catholic Priest, or an Evangelical Youth Pastor, or a Scout Master. And why? In a word: ACCESS. That’s why pedophile priests and scoutmasters molest more boys than girls: not because they are gay, but because they have BETTER access. And of course because they don’t want to be gay, this doesn’t really count, no one will find out, or even suspect, because the kid is just as ashamed of being a victim and being perceived as weak, or being gay, as the perps are, even if the perps are actually heterosexual or just your garden-variety fixated pedophile.

Double points for extra rich irony here– from the anti-gay idea that men who molest boys are homosexual, but men who molest girls are NOT HETEROSEXUAL, but child molesters. And who is doing the molesting, then, but men who would most likely identify as heterosexual in terms of their interests and experience? And who is enabling the problem? Like with the Church, the Administration of the BSA.

I worked for the BSA in 1974. The homophobia stunk like a mildewed canvas tent. The BSA does not allow gay Scoutmasters, or gay anything, lest their moral cred be questioned. I suspect they prefer married men since they have their Thoroughly Heterosexual Certificates. But they also STILL acknowledge a problem with adults and The Boys. We have the spectacle of Boy Scout Official Douglas Smith– an architect and fervent supporter of the idea that somehow, gay people must be kept out of scouting for the safety and moral straightness of the boys– pleading guilty to possession of child pornography, and if I recall correctly, accused of man-on-boy stuff.

And yet gay people are the problem.

Sounds to me like someone is just trying to protect their turf, possibly from perceived poachers, or just projecting. An out gay man is not very likely to be a molester, partly because of the self-examination that the coming out process requires and which heterosexuals do not much have any experience of, and partly because we are very conscious of this bias and so would be very careful to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. I know I am very conscious of it around my nephew.

Can you say scapegoat? Becuase that to me is the final irony. The innocents and the minority are the scapegoat for the sins of the majority and the guilty. How could a right-wing, literalist, bible-believing Christian not get a bang out of that?

And this is why I no longer support the BSA.

Jason D
December 29th, 2009 | LINK

I stopped supporting the BSA back when I was a cub scout.

They gave us a an art project for a contest. We got a bag with an assortmet of art supplies. Things like dried beans, paper plates, empty film cannisters, paper clips, closepins, etc, etc etc.

I made a set of tents, a Native American, and a boyscout cooking a bean over an outdoor fire. The rest of the kids made paper-plate masks. The kind you’d see on on the wall outside a kindergarten. I made a tiny headress for my Native American and and a tiny hat for my boyscout — all with the materials furnished in the kit.

I lost.

I later found out I was disqualified because my project was in a box. We were supposed to only use the materials included in the kit, and my box wasn’t in the kit. Had I known that the box that was carrying my project was an issue, I would’ve just taken everything out of the box.

That was the last time I attended any cub scout event. Nobody in my family blamed me.

Paul
December 29th, 2009 | LINK

As a former Eagle Boy Scout who happens to be gay I am in full support of the LAPD and all other organizations who break ties with this discriminatory organization. The Boy Scouts is now just another extension of the Morman and other evangelical christianist orgainizations. It deserves to fail and hopefully other GLBTQ friendly organizations will step up to the plate to replace some of the out of doors and other experiences that these young men deserve without the threat of marginalization and discrimination.

Go LAPD!

Ben
December 29th, 2009 | LINK

@Mr. HCI – Your experience is much the same as mine. I was a model Scout. I held every leadership position within the Troop that I could, from Assistant Patrol Leader up to Senior Patrol Leader and everything in between, I made Eagle Scout and Order of the Arrow and am still well-liked (almost ten years later) by the troop leadership. Scouting was one of the most important activities of my youth, and I remain proud of my achievements from that time and believe that I am a better person because of my experiences with scouting.

I read the following someplace, and it sums up my feelings regarding scouting:

“The scouting program is fundamentally good. It is about building people of strong character and I believe many troops still do, despite national policy. The scout oath and law, when applied with an even and reasoned mind are good principles to build a program on.”

It is my hope that someday the BSA will adopt similar policies as other western scouting organizations, permitting gays and non-theists to be involved.

Paul
December 29th, 2009 | LINK

Ben,

Thanks. I was in scouting for 9 years and actually never even heard the word ‘gay’ come up in conversation when I was a scout. Of course I was just a young adult but it is very heartbreaking to me that a once decent organization now only stands for nothing more than hate and discrimination. No one benefits from such an organization and I actually now feel sorry for the young scouts.

Emily K
December 29th, 2009 | LINK

Mr. HCI, I hope that the “boy” you had “the major hots for” was not in fact a boy, while you were a man. If, on the other hand, you had the hots for a fellow scout around the same age (and rank), that is perfectly understandable. Otherwise, unfortunately, it feeds into the pederasty stereotype of scouts, priests, etc.

Regan DuCasse
December 29th, 2009 | LINK

How come the GIRL SCOUTS don’t have this problem?

Priya Lynn
December 30th, 2009 | LINK

Good question Regan. Are they a seperate organziation with rational policies?

lurker
December 30th, 2009 | LINK

yes, the girl scouts of the USA are their own organization, not affiliated with the BSA. They do not have any organizational anti-homosexual policies or religious requirements.

I was a girl scout camp councilor when I was a college student – and the staff was lousy with lesbians. Really freaked my mother out! She warned me that those lesbians may come on to me :) The camp had a “no back-rubs in front of the kids” policy, but there was absolutely no child molestation phobia going on.

DC
January 3rd, 2010 | LINK

I do wish the BSA would man up and own their mistake in mandating discrimination across the organization. Instead, they dig in the trenches. A lot of people I know have absolutely benefitted in the Boy Scouts. The local BSA volunteers & Scouting Moms I’ve met have been happy to meet new people interested in sharing the outdoors with young people and disappointed that I recuse myself from involvement because I am an agnostic lesbian. “When they change the policy, I’ll be happy to come help with your troop,” I say.

I am so glad I didn’t have to face these issues as a Girl Scout. I’d like to see if newer materials for older girls mention homosexuality; the GSA has prided itself on being a reliable source of accurate information on development for its members. When I was a scout 10 years ago, I know they addressed nuclear, single-parent, and blended families positively. I was a little glad to have a lesbian (& her supportive lesbian mom!) in my troop, even though I thought I was “straight but not narrow” back then.

My condolences to all the Boy Scouts here who must reconcile the good the BSA worked in their youth with poor behavior today.

Steve
January 3rd, 2010 | LINK

“So this organization, once revered and considered an integral part of American youth, is increasingly give the heave-ho.”
This statement is probably more reflective of large urban areas where there are more gay people and higher levels of tolerance.
I live in Colorado in a middle America type town. Don’t get your hopes up. The Boy Scouts are revered here and are viewed as an outstanding civic organization. No one ever says anything bad about them. I have noticed that the Catholic Church and the Mormons have a very large influence on the Boy Scouts—-meetings are often held at churches, there is some sort of badge offered by the Catholic Church, and so forth.
I suppose I support the right of any organization to exclude certain members that don’t conform to that particular group’s belief set. As others have commented on, I just don’t want my tax dollars to be used in any way to support such groups.
As one commenter had proposed, wouldn’t it be great if a more tolerant and open minded group was to form that offered all the experiences the Boy Scouts offered and yet did not promote hatred of gays? I would love to see such a group take off and drive the Boy Scouts into homophobic exile.

Jason D
January 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Perhaps GLSEN, or Amnesty International should start a scouting program.

DC
January 6th, 2010 | LINK

Amnesty Scouts would be *rad*.

Troop Historian’s Report: 1/16/2010 « A Scout Is
January 17th, 2010 | LINK

[…] LAPD Drops ties with the Boy Scouts of America. Not really Boy Scouting but Exploring and specifically Law Enforcement Explorers, the LAPD has elected to bring the program in-house to mitigate criticism that the program, under the Boy Scouts of America, is discriminatory. The LAPD has a history of discrimination problems and no doubt wants to remove some easy targets. My personal hope is that the LAPD recreates the program from scratch, it would be copyright infringement to take the program and materials and just duplicate it in-house. […]

Jim Hughes
January 18th, 2010 | LINK

The problem with forming a new scouting organization is that the Congressional Charter the BSA has will prevent that.

The BSA successfully sued to prevent Youth Scouting from forming.

Congress needs to vote to pull the charter.

Susan
February 25th, 2010 | LINK

I am a 10 + year Scout volunteer, a Mom of three boys and Grandmother of a grandson. I totally support the BSA with my time, engergies and monies. I have never, repeat never, refused any boy or leader into Scouting because of any orientation. Sexual or religious. Nor have I been directed to by any paid professional Scouter. My training as a Scout volunteer is sort of the same as the military. Don’t ask, don’t tell. It’s not my business to know another’s personal life. If that personal life (no matter homosexual, heterosexual or criminal) becomes a distration to the ideals of a Scouting unit, then yes something needs to change. The Scouts in my unit don’t want to know my personal life and I don’t share. That’s a key issue that has yet to be addressed by your previous commentators. That may not be the best explaination of my feelings, but it is truly what I have experienced in the wonderful program of Boy Scouts of America. It’s too bad that an organization with such a history here in American can be dismissed because of a few zealous people on both sides of an issue. Where is the tolorance for others? Come to my Scouting District and Units…. I will show you! Here’s wishing the BSA another 100 years to share it’s program with and for all.

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