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Posts for February, 2014

Ohhh Noes!!! Teh Boy Scouts is shrinking!!!

Timothy Kincaid

February 13th, 2014

When the Boy Scouts of America revised its policies so as not to expel young scouts who are open about their orientation, those who object to honesty and homosexuality warned that there would be a mass exodus from the organization. In addition, a whole new group was created to provide a home for children who are not gay. Or Jews. Or Mormons.

Now the Boy Scouts has quantified the extent to which their policy change has impacted membership. And ohhh noes!! They’ve lost members!! (Time)

The Boy Scouts of America have lost six percent of their members since changing their policy on gay participants, the group said Wednesday.

Well, actually they may not have lost six percent entirely due to the policy change. Membership in the Boy Scouts has been in decline for years as the decrease in direct heterosexual parental involvement has led to more television and video game playing and less camping and jamboreeing.

“There are many factors that go into a family’s decision to join Scouting and it’s impossible to point to any single factor that influences our membership numbers,” Smith said. “This includes, but is not limited to, the limited amount of discretional time and parents wanting relevant programs for their kids.”

Membership has gradually shrunk over the last decade to 2.5 million youth and 1 million adults, including a four percent drop from 2011 to 2012.

But I think we can now say that the predictions of the demise of the Boy Scouts by antigay activists has proven to be consistent with their track record on other predictions.

BSA officially allows gay scouts

Timothy Kincaid

January 2nd, 2014

I don’t think anyone has been disallowed recently, but yesterday, January 1, was the day that it become official, gay youth can participate in the Boy Scouts. Gay adults cannot participate and, eventually, that will become a problem as current scouts become 18 and find themselves or their friends kicked to the curb.

But this week is for celebrating, so welcome Boy Scouts of America to the current century!

Meanwhile, the promised mass exodus from BSA of troops and members who are horrified that little gay Joey may be in the same room as their precious little darlings, seems not to have happened. (NBC)

So far, the vast majority of charter partners nationwide have chosen to remain Scout sponsors, said BSA spokesman Deron Smith. The organization estimates that less than 2 percent of its 116,000 troops and packs were dropped by their sponsors.

But those who oppose the, gasp, immorality of treating your neighbor like yourself have started a new group for troops who want to be exactly like the Boy Scouts except gayhateier.

Nonetheless, an alternate faith-based Scouting group formed in the wake of the vote is preparing to welcome many ex-Boy Scouts into its organization. The group, Trail Life USA, launches on Jan. 1. It will not allow open and avowed gay youth, according to board chairman John Stemberger, a former BSA Scoutmaster.

Some 425 units, with an average of 20 boys, have signed up with Trail Life USA. About half of the incoming adults and youth were formerly with the Boy Scouts, said Stemberger. “We’re not trying to compete with the BSA,” he said. “We’re just trying to provide a quality program for those that want it.”

Trail Life promises to build men of faith and character who will become godly husbands, fathers, and citizens. And unlike the BSA, they aren’t building men of character if they are gay. Or Mormon. Or Jewish. (Who knew there were so many kinds of people that are a threat to their precious little darlings? Not just little Joey, but little Nephi, and little Mosheh as well.)

So now Trail Life can join the much larger Royal Rangers, Calvinist Cadets, Boys’ Brigade, and Royal Ambassadors, in being “not the Boy Scouts”. And how many kids will want to take off the Boy Scout uniform with its history and neckerchief and patches and jamborees and put on the Trail Life t-shirt? I’m betting on not many.

Boy Scouts of America Votes To Allow Gay Members, Retains Ban On Gay Leaders

Jim Burroway

May 23rd, 2013

The Boy Scouts of America’s National Council this afternoon passed a resolution to allow gay youth to become Boy Scout members. The resolution passed with a 61% to 38% margin. According to a BSA press release:

“Based on growing input from within the Scouting family, the BSA leadership chose to conduct an additional review of the organization’s long-standing membership policy and its impact on Scouting’s mission. This review created an outpouring of feedback from the Scouting family and the American public, from both those who agree with the current policy and those who support a change.

“Today, following this review, the most comprehensive listening exercise in Scouting’s history  the approximate 1,400 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Council approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone. The resolution also reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting. A change to the current membership policy for adult leaders was not under consideration; thus, the policy for adults remains in place. The BSA thanks all the national voting members who participated in this process and vote.”

The BSA’s retention of the ban on gay adult leaders means that as soon as a gay Boy Scout turns 18  — even if he is an Eagle Scout in the Order of the Arrow (the Scout’s national honor society) – that Scout will suddenly become a pariah in his troop instead of a young adult leader.

The Boy Scout’s new policy goes into effect January 1, 2014.

Connecticut Scouts simply announce that they are accepting gay scout leaders

Timothy Kincaid

May 21st, 2013

It looks as though the Connecticut Yankee Council of the Boy Scouts of America just said “the hell with it” and decided that it wasn’t going to kowtow to the dictates of Utah.

Scouting in the Connecticut Yankee Council is open to all youth and adults who subscribe to the values of the Scout Oath and Law regardless of their personal sexual orientation. All our Scouts and leaders must display the highest levels of good conduct and any sexual conduct within Scouting is unacceptable. Our charter partners retain the responsibility to select the best possible leadership for their units consistent with their moral values.

I wonder how this plays with the new ‘compromise’ imagined into existence by leaders hoping that no one notices exactly what it says to gay youth. I somehow doubt that they are going to kick out a quarter of Connecticut. And I very much doubt that they will be the only region in open defiance of the ‘gay adults are dangerous’ policy.

Do the Scouts continue to have a legal basis for discriminating?

Timothy Kincaid

April 28th, 2013

On June 28, 2000, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned the New Jersey Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of James Dale in his lawsuit to be reinstated as assistant scoutmaster. In doing so, SCOTUS relied on the assertions by the Boy Scouts of America that they, as a whole, had an expressive policy against homosexuality. The key determinant was whether the Boy Scouts, in insisting that their members be “morally straight” and excluding, by policy, homosexual members and volunteers, were sending an express message to the youth members.

In other words, they were allowed to discriminate against gay members and volunteers precisely because they have a belief and message to convey about homosexuality.

But here are a few questions I have for the legal eagles:

1. Does the message “homosexuality is acceptable in our membership when one is 17 but not when one is 18″ continue to be a consistent expression of belief?

2. If the Scouts no longer believe that one must be heterosexual to be “morally straight” (a condition they place on their youth members), then what, exactly, is the legal basis to their exclusion of gay adult volunteers?

3. The SCOTUS places a great deal of emphasis on the right of the Scouts to teach by example on the issue of homosexuality and that such teaching by modeling is an expression. But that modeling presumes that all youth are equally subject to modeling, and – more or less – that sexual orientation is either not fixed or, perhaps, non-existent. But if they are now accepting gay youth, they then acknowledge that these youth have a homosexual sexual orientation. And if they restrict adult volunteers to those with a heterosexual sexual orientation, they are limiting their modeling of behavior only to those boys who also have a heterosexual sexual orientation and present no model whatsoever for gay youth. So do they continue to express by example?

In short, by this strange ‘compromise’, have not the Boy Scouts given up their legal basis for discrimination?

Guess who likes the proposed “no gay adults” Scouts policy

Timothy Kincaid

April 26th, 2013

mormonscoutI am not a fan of the new proposed policy of the Boy Scouts of America relating to sexual orientation. The change, which would allow gay youth to participate but ban any positive gay role models, seems to me to be little better than the current policy.

But there is one group who likes the new proposal: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (The Mormons): (NBC)

“We are grateful to BSA for their careful consideration of these issues. We appreciate the positive things contained in this current proposal that will help build and strengthen the moral character and leadership skills of youth as we work together in the future,” the LDS church said Thursday in a statement posted to their website.

“The current BSA proposal constructively addresses a number of important issues that have been part of the ongoing dialogue, including consistent standards for all BSA partners, recognition that Scouting exists to serve and benefit youth rather than Scout leaders, a single standard of moral purity for youth in the program, and a renewed emphasis for Scouts to honor their duty to God.”

This welcome should not surprise us as it mirrors the most recent shift in Mormon approach to sexual orientation. The Mormon Church now welcomes and even has an outreach to gay people. With a caveat. You can be gay, but you have to behave heterosexually. The church has been trotting out examples and spokespeople who declare the joys of being married to a person of the opposite sex while also recognizing that they are homosexually oriented.

And that will be what the Scouts will be expected to teach. That ‘single standard of moral purity’ will be clear: abstinence until marriage to a woman. And there won’t be any of those complicating factors brought up by actual real gay people participating.

This, of course, will solve nothing.

Sure some boys will be able to get their Eagle Scout badges without hiding their identity (provided that they haven’t turned 18). And the policy change may even allow some sponsors the excuse they need to continue or resume giving. But the core problem will remain the same: the churches and civil organizations that serve as scout sponsors are not in agreement over the issue.

The Mormons may delight in a policy that says that you can have a same-sex attraction but never act on it, but many Methodists, Lutherans, and Presbyterians will not. In fact, those churches who have quietly set policies that banned discrimination and who have at times quietly allowed gay leaders may feel even more pressured by this change. This ‘compromise’, one that asks almost nothing of anti-gay Scout groups in the way of teaching and inclusion, may be used to force those more supportive troops to abide by this ‘single standard’.

The Scouts were considering a policy that would allow conscience and thought to guide the various troops. Much in the way that troop vary on issues such as the divinity of Christ, the nature of God, and whether or not you will be given your own planet to rule over when you die, the issue of whether God approves or disapproves of gay people would be up to the teaching of the individual sponsors.

Instead they are now opting for conformity. You may disagree over whether being “morally straight” allows alcohol, tobacco, and dancing. You can disagree over whether your troop members will wear a yarmulke. You can disagree over the Trinity, over what is acceptable language in society, even – it seems – over masturbation. But you must agree that gay men are a morally inappropriate example for gay youth.

And that is something that many scouting troops will not support.

When polled on the gay ban, half of the administrative local counsels recommended keeping the ban. But thirty-eight percent said it should change. They either believe that gay youth and men should be allowed to participate, or they are sick of the bad press.

So the leadership opted for a change that is not a change. A solution that solves nothing.

The bad press isn’t going away. Under this new policy, Tim Griffin would still be barred from working at Camp Winton. Jennifer Tyrrell would still be excluded as a den mother. And Ryan Andresen still won’t get his Eagle Badge.

And the confrontation with mainstream churches will not disappear. St. James in the City will continue to ban discrimination. And the gay and lesbian pastors in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will continue to be offended by policies that bar them from participating in their own church’s troop. And many of the thirty-eight percent will see this move as a pittance, a pretense at inclusion.

Boy Scouts propose pissing off everyone

Timothy Kincaid

April 19th, 2013

20130419-094032.jpg

There is something blind, something ignorant, something truly clueless in the way that some people approach crisis management.

Confronted with two opposing viewpoints, two cultures at war, they seek to mediate, to find a solution that is workable for all sides. That isn’t a bad approach; but you have to look at the underlying issues, the core concerns. And those who ‘just want it to all go away’ can often focus on negotiating the details, thinking this will resolve the issue.

It doesn’t.

A compromise that doesn’t address the base issues is unacceptable to both sides. “When you hit those you see as your enemy, you may only use sticks, not clubs” is a solution that makes happy neither the club wielders or those being beaten.

And yet that is the new “solution” to the problem that the Boy Scouts of America are proposing to their dilemma over gay scouts. ABC

Under pressure over its longstanding ban on gays, the Boys Scouts of America is proposing to lift the ban for youth members but continue to exclude gays as adult leaders.

The Scouts announced Friday that it would submit this proposal to the roughly 1,400 voting members of its National Council at a meeting in Texas the week of May 20.

This foolish proposal will likely please no one. Because it fails to recognize the issues at hand.

Conservative churches who host scout troops are primarily concerned that their teachings on morality will be undermined by the programs they sponsor. They do not want to be affiliated with an organization which expresses that a gay identity is a morally acceptable way to see oneself. So the Scouts saying that they welcome gay youth into the local scout troop is unlikely to please those who most object to policy change.

On the other hand, the proposed policy presumes that gay adults are predatory and a threat to youth. To those who believe that sexual orientation is merely an attribute of one’s being, such a message is more offensive than an outright ban. It concedes the morality issue and pivots to one of fear, stereotype, and bigotry. Gay groups and liberal churches can’t help but be horrified at the implication.

And to the youth in the Scouts, it’s particularly toxic. The message is now that you can be tolerated because you are young. But some day you will become a vile and horrible threat to those around you. And when you do, you will be shunned and feared and banished. The Scouts may be for life for other, but not for you.

This is an in working, untenable position.

The previous proposal – that each troop chose whether to welcome gay scouts and leaders – was not ideal. But it did recognize the problem and find a way to respect the concerns of both sides.

I would favor a policy that lets each troop decide locally but which demands that all troops respect the position and decision of each other when they come together. This is an approach that has worked well in a number of religious organization who are not in unity in the issue of pastoral care or marriage.

But I predict that this absurd accepting of gay youth until their 18th birthday will make no one happy. No one except those who foolishly think that this decision will ‘just make it all go away.’

Boy Scouts Delay Decison on Gay Ban

Jim Burroway

February 6th, 2013

According to the Boy Scout Law, which every Boy Scout recites regularly, a Boy Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. You can now add indecisive to that list. The Boy Scouts of America’s Governing Board announced today that they will put off their decision on whether to life their ban on gay scouts and scout leaders until the BSA’s national meeting in May. According to a statement released this morning:

For 103 years, the Boy Scouts of America has been a part of the fabric of this nation, providing it’s youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. In the past two weeks, Scouting has received an outpouring of feedback from the American public. It reinforces how deeply people care about Scouting and how passionate they are about the organization.

After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy.

To that end, the executive board directed its committees to further engage representatives of Scouting’s membership and listen to their perspectives and concerns. This will assist the officers’ work on a resolution on membership standards. The approximately 1,400 voting members of the national council will take action on the resolution at the national meeting in May 2013.

Where do the Mormons stand on the gay scouting issue?

Timothy Kincaid

February 4th, 2013

I’m sure most Turtlers who read that headline think they know the answer and that it isn’t pretty. But I’m not sure it’s all that clear. (New York Times)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which sponsors more Scout troops than any other church, has deferred comment on the proposed change. But even if gay scouts were allowed into Mormon-sponsored troops, the same church membership rules would apply as they do now, a church spokesman said.

Gay and lesbian Mormons are welcomed into the church, the spokesman said, but must follow the same rules as heterosexual Mormons. That means no sex outside marriage, and in Mormon doctrine, same-sex marriage is not recognized as legitimate — even in states where it is legal.

To allow gay youth into a Mormon troop might not be all that much of a challenge. If there’s simply a ‘no boinking’ rule (as opposed to the ‘no existing’ rule favored by many opponents of our community) then it’s not more of an impediment to the good Mormon gay boy than it is to the good Mormon straight boy.

And considering their newfound support for gay Mormons – provided that they marry someone of the opposite sex – it would not surprise me to see them welcome as scoutmaster that peculiar oddity, the openly gay Mormon living as a straight man.

Santorum: the Scouts’ Board of Directors are going to murder scouting

Timothy Kincaid

February 4th, 2013

From the man who thought he was going to be president: (World Net Daily – a very appropriate place for Rick Santorum)

Scouting prepares boys and teenagers to be virtuous men in a world that desperately needs men who are brave enough to stand up for those principles, to live by the moral code of the Scout Oath and Law and hold themselves to that standard – whether at the schoolyard or in the boardroom. Scouting may not survive this transformation of American society, but for the sake of the average boy in America, I hope the board of the Scouts doesn’t have its fingerprints on the murder weapon.

The Box of Rocks came out of retirement to note that wacky hyperbole is beneath its dignity.

The Boy Scouts approach is balanced

Timothy Kincaid

February 2nd, 2013

Two of the largest and most influential LGBT advocacy groups, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the Human Rights Campaign, are in disagreement over the new proposed Boy Scouts of America policy. If the proposal passes, the Boy Scouts would no longer bar gay youth or gay leaders from the organization. Instead, they would allow each unit to decide for itself whether or not gay youth or leaders could participate.

GLAAD finds this to be a good first step in the direction of full inclusion. HRC finds it simply unacceptable that any troop could be allowed to continue excluding gay people. I find myself in agreement with GLAAD.

I guess it comes down to how one defines ‘victory’; whether its a matter of achieving goals or a matter of vanquishing foes.

For me the goal is that those parents, troops, and sponsors who value inclusion and oppose discrimination have the ability and right to live and operate according to their values. This has been their fight as much as our own.

Others will not be inclusive, and should not be forced to be. The values of those who do not want their children to be taught that same-sex relationships are religiously or socially acceptable may not garner our respect, but the right to hold those value should.

And the truth is that we have won the war. In time, all Scout troops will welcome youth and leaders irrespective of their orientation. Many have been clamoring for the chance and many more will find it both easier and financially necessary.

So let us be gracious in our victory, kind to those who see their values rejected, and respectful of their rights. Let’s prove that society has chosen wisely.

Tell the Boy Scouts You Support Ending the Ban on Gay Scouts

Jim Burroway

January 30th, 2013

The governing board of the Boy Scouts of America is due to meet next week, when it is expected to end its ban on gay scouts and scout leaders. Already our opponents are asking their supporters to flood Boy Scout headquarters with messages opposing the move. Its important that we do the same. There are four ways to do this:

  • Call them: At 972-580-2330. Keep your messages short and polite. When you call, you will be asked a question that some might find tricky: “Are you for or against the change in policy?” This may become confusing for people who are against the ban on gay Scouts. Please remember that you are for the change in policy.
  • Email them: At NationalSupportCenter@Scouting.org. Short and sweet is best. GLAAD recommends something like this: “Dear Boy Scouts of America, I think everyone should have the chance to take part in Scouting. I support an end to the ban on gay scouts and scout leaders. Sincerely, …”
  • Tweet them: For example: “Dear @BoyScouts, I support inclusive Scouting. End the ban on gay scouts and leaders. #BoyScouts”
  • Facebook them: Here. Again, keep it short, sweet, and polite.

Family “Research” Council Blames “Bullies” For Boy Scout Policy Change

Jim Burroway

January 28th, 2013

This email went out moments ago under the subject line, “Will the Boy Scouts stand up to bullies?”

For decades, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have heroically withstood attacks from homosexual activists. Now, officials from the organization have indicated that this may be about to change. The BSA says that it is “discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation.”

“Be prepared.” The motto of the venerable organization that has helped develop countless boys into men, preparedness is not only an aspiration, but a descriptor. Thus far they’ve been prepared to withstand the constant bullying by those who work to bring down all that the millions of dedicated Scouts and Scout leaders stand for.

A departure from their long-held policies would be devastating to an organization that has prided itself on the development of character in boys. In fact, according to a recent Gallup survey, only 42 percent of Americans support changing the policy to allow homosexual scout leaders.

As the BSA board meets next week, it is crucial that they hear from those who stand with them and their current policy regarding homosexuality. Please call the Boy Scouts of America at 972-580-2000 and tell them that you want to see the organization stand firm in its moral values and respect the right of parents to discuss these sexual topics with their children.

Please call the Boy Scouts at 972-580-2000!

Oh yes, do please call the Boy Scouts at 972-580-2000 — that’s 972-580-2000! — and thank them for opening Scouting up to those who have been bullied the most. Operators are standing by.

Report: End of Boy Scouts Ban on Gay Scouts and Scout Leaders Imminent

Jim Burroway

January 28th, 2013

This is a really, really big deal. NBC’s Pete Williams broke the story this morning that the t Boy Scouts of America is “actively considering” and end to its ban on gay scouts and scout leaders:

If adopted by the organization’s board of directors, it would represent a profound change on an issue that has been highly controversial — one that even went to the US Supreme Court. The new policy, now under discussion, would eliminate the ban from the national organization’s rules, leaving local sponsoring organizations free to decide for themselves whether to admit gay scouts.

“The chartered organizations that oversee and deliver scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs,” according to Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts’ national organization.

Individual sponsors and parents “would be able to choose a local unit which best meets the needs of their families,” Smith said.

The discission is reportedly in its “final stages.” It’s important to note that the change in policy will allow individual boy scout troops to decide for themselves whether they will accept gay scout members or leaders. Because many LGBT-affirming churches and organizations sponsor troops, the Scouts’ ban on gay members and leaders have placed those organizations’ affirmative beliefs and policies in an untenable conflict with the BSA. Meanwhile, the Boy Scouts have been the de-facto youth group the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, where every Mormon boy is automatically enrolled and the vast majority are active members. By pushing the policy decision to a local level, the BSA appears to be aiming for a compromise which would allow all of the sponsoring organizations to remain affiliated with Scouting.

The change could be finalized next week when the board holds its annual meeting. Welcome to the twenty-first century, scouts!

It was just last July when it was announced that a double super-secret panel at BSA had recommended that the ban on gay scout members and leaders remain in place. That announcement came under outgoing BSA president, Rex Tillerson, who is also the CEO of ExxonMobil, a company with the lowest possible rating on LGBT equality from the Human Rights Campaign. The new BSA president, Wayne Perry, who retired from McCaw Cellular which became a part of AT&T — which, by the way, has a perfect score from HRC. Other BSA board members, namely James Turley, global chairman and CEO of tax firm Ernst & Young, and AT&T’s chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson, also voiced their opposition to the ban.

Update: The New York Times has more on the pending policy change:

“This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs,” a spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America, Deron Smith, said in a statement.

Mr. Smith added: “The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents. Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs.” He said that members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families

Lafayette’s Jews call for action against boy scouts

Timothy Kincaid

January 17th, 2013

In Contra Costa County across the bay from San Francisco, the little town of Lafayette is a nice place to be. The hills are pastoral, the air is clear, the median family income is about $150 K and homes average over a million. But even amidst this paradise, the Jews are pissed. (Contra Costa Times)

The board of directors of Temple Isaiah voted unanimously this week to oppose the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to disqualify boys because they admit to being gay.

Or, more specifically:

We recommend Temple Isaiah members who are involved with Boy Scouts to advocate for change in the BSA membership policy by taking actions such as:

• Writing letters to BSA protesting its non-inclusive policy;

• Joining and supporting organizations such as Scouts for Equality that are organizing campaigns by boy scouts against the anti-gay policy;

• Working within their troops to oppose the current membership policy and foster diversity and inclusion;

• Withdrawing from troops that support the BSA anti-gay policy and joining troops that are opposed to that policy.

• Exerting financial pressure on BSA by withholding contributions to the national BSA (beyond required dues) and supporting troops that are opposed to the non-inclusive policy, and letting BSA know the reason for this decision; and

• For those considering joining Boy Scouts, postponing joining until the anti-gay policy is changed on a national level or joining a troop that takes issue with the national policy and communicating the reason for this decision to the local council and national organization.

This is part of a decade long effort by Reform Synagogues to walk away from discrimination and bigotry in the Boy Scouts.

Scouts Honor: Files Reveal Scope of Boy Scouts Sexual Abuse Scandal

Jim Burroway

October 17th, 2012

The Los Angeles Times looked at nearly 1,900 files that the Boy Scouts of American kept between 1970 and 1991, along with case summaries from an additional 3,100 files from 1974 and 2005 describing some four decades of child sexual abuse which rivals the Catholic Church’s clerical scandal in breadth and scope:

The thousands of men expelled from the Boy Scouts of America on suspicion of molesting children came from all walks of life — teachers and plumbers, doctors and bus drivers, politicians and policemen. They ranged in age from teens to senior citizens and came from troops in every state.

…Many of the men who were ultimately expelled from the Scouts were highly decorated troop leaders and respected members of the community. Dozens had been honored with Scouting awards such as the Silver Beaver, a distinguished service award for adult troop leaders. John McGrew was a Dallas scoutmaster who had been recognized as teacher of the year and received a proclamation from City Hall for his work with disadvantaged youths. Two months before he was arrested on molestation charges, he was featured in Scouting Magazine, where his supervisor praised his “personal dedication and genuine love for these kids.” In 1988, 16 boys testified in court that McGrew had abused them. He was convicted on several counts and sentenced to life in prison.

Darrald Timmie Ostopowich, an assistant scoutmaster in Los Angeles, told a psychiatrist that over four years he sexually assaulted more than 50 boys, most of whom were Cub Scouts, according to his file. Scouting officials only learned about the abuse years later after news of his 1981 conviction was published. He is now in jail.

In the early 1990s, child abuse experts on an advisory panel urged the Boy Scouts of American to study the files for patterns in order to try to prevent abuse from occurring. David Finkelhor, a widely-published child abuse expert from the University of New Hampshire said that they raised the issue “pretty regularly every year or two” but was routinely ignored. Instead of mining the data to gain a scientifically-valid insight into the problem, the Boy Scouts instead used the not so subtle homosexual-as-predator subtext as part of its justification in keeping gay people out of Scouting altogether — even though research has consistently shown that openly out and proud gay people are no more likely to molest children than anyone else.

To illustrate the BSA’s insistence on equating the two, Seattle’s KING discovered that the Boy Scout’s files (which BSA called the “perversion files”) intermingled files of accusations of sexual abuse with those of Scout leaders who were merely suspected of being gay without any allegations of any kind of misconduct being made against them. Of the fifty files KING looked at, two fit that latter bill:

One file is about a scoutmaster form Ellensburg who was outsted from Scouting in 1974 after the organization had collected evidence he was gay. A memorandum from a Scout Executive in Yakima to the organization’s Registration and Subscription Executive at BSA headquarters in Texas explains they’d “become aware of a suspected moral problem” with (the Scout leader). The Yakima executive recieved information that the man had previously been discharged as a Scouting camp counselor “on suspicion of homosexuality.” The Scouts continued to build their case in the file by obtaining “proof” of their suspicion. The record is a four page letter handwritten by the scoutmaster where he confides to a friend, “Yes, I am gay (homosexual)”. It’s unclear from the file how BSA obtained the letter. The following month BSA leaders in Texas completed their file with a lifetime ban on the scoutmaster. Their “Confidential Record Sheet” lists one reason for the move: “homosexuality”.

In 1990 a Chapter Chief from Seattle was removed from the Scouting program for being gay. The Scouts launched an investigation and created a file on the man after a parent wrote to complain the leader was “effeminate”. The parent was concerned the Chapter Chief was “exerting influence over impressionable boys”. The Scout Executive of the Chief Seattle Council, Dean Lollar, requested written proof of the man’s sexual orientation from a Chapter advisor who had befriended the suspected gay leader. The friend documented a conversation with the Chapter Chief in which he stated “I am gay. In no way have I or will I ever force myself on any Scouts or Scouters that I work with. The Boy Scouts have done so many wonderful things for me and have given me purpose and goals to work for. I couldn’t think of ever doing something the Boy Scouts would be upset with.”

The Scouts were upset. They removed the man from the organization a month after recieving the written account of his admission.

The Times has published an interactive map and database where you can enter a name or city to find out about abuse allegations in your area. You can read more about the science of child sexual abuse in our 2006 report, Testing the Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Eagle Scouts live up to the title

Timothy Kincaid

September 5th, 2012

As we noted earlier, the Boy Scouts of America says that five Eagle Scouts have sent back their pins and resigned their membership over the dishonorable decision by the BSA to continue its discriminatory anti-gay membership policy. However, Eagle Scouts Returning Our Badges has a growing list that is much much longer than five:

September 4 – 1; total 155
September 3 – 1; total 154
September 2 – 1; total 153
September 1 – 1; total 152
August 31 – 2; total 151
August 30 – 1; total 149
August 28 – 1; total 148
August 27 – 2; total 147
August 26 – 1; total 145
August 25 – 1; total 144
August 23 – 11; total 143
August 22 – 1; total 132
August 21 – 2; total 131
August 20 – 1; total 129
August 19 – 2; total 128
August 18 – 3; total 126
August 17 – 1; total 123
August 16 – 1; total 122
August 15 – 7; total 121
August 14 – 1; total 114
August 13 – 9; total 113
August 12 – 1; total 104
August 10 – 3; total 103
August 9 – 5; total 100
August 8 – 6; total 95
August 7 – 1; total 89
August 6 – 3; total 88
August 5 – 2; total 85
August 4 – 1; total 83
August 3 – 7; total 82
August 2 – 7; total 75
August 1 – 10; total – 68
July 31 – 10; total – 58
July 30 – 12; total – 48
July 29 – 10; total – 36
July 28 – 10; total – 26
July 27 – 4; total – 16
July 25 – 1; total – 12
July 24 – 2; total – 11
July 23 – 5; total – 9
July 22 – 2; total – 4
July 20 – 1; total – 2
July 17 – 1; total – 1

UPDATE: You have to read some of these letters. All of them (that I’ve seen) from straight men. And all of them credit their decision to disassociate from the BSA to the values they learned as Eagle Scouts.

Sacto Scouts: we fired him for looking and acting gay, not for being gay

Timothy Kincaid

August 15th, 2012

The administrators within the Boy Scouts who try and enforce their anti-gay policy must all have been bitten by the SayStupidThings bug. Because repeatedly they open their mouths and out comes nonsense that is just about guaranteed to make them look oppressive and out of touch.

Take, for example, the Golden Empire Counsel in the Sacramento area which operates Camp Winton, southeast of Lake Tahoe.

In July, the national council reaffirmed their “no gays allowed” policy. So 22 year old Tim Griffin, an nine-year employee, asked the program director what they could do about it.

Well, it seems that what they could do about it was to fire Tim. But, perhaps not wanting to look like bigoted troglodytes, they decided that another explanation was better.

The Golden Empire Council, Boy Scouts of America recently found it necessary to dismiss an individual from his position on camp staff due to an issue with performance, violation of expected camp behavior and camp standards.

As this is a personnel matter, I am not a liberty to discuss details but I can tell you that, contrary to other reports, this incident has nothing to do with our membership policy. The camp director has no knowledge of this individual’s sexual orientation. As our policy indicates, the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers or members.

And as for that “expected camp behavior and camp standards”,

Glen Goddard, program director for the Golden Empire Council, told The Sacramento Bee that Griffin was dismissed because he refused to adhere to uniform guidelines.

At issue were the nail polish and earring Griffin wore, although someone also had complained about his mannerisms, Goddard says.

It’s not that he’s one of them there homoSEXshulls, nosirree, it’s cuz he looked and acted like one of them there homoSEXshulls.

I’m sure that they thought that would be the end of it. Well, not exactly. Because that explanation – while it might sound scary on the news (ooooh, fingernail polish! girly! girly! girly!) – it didn’t fly with his fellow scout employees who also were wearing fingernail polish (presumably to object to the ban). In fact, a third of the other employees – including his supervisor – quit in protest. And then went on change.org and started a petition with a somewhat different explanation:

Tim was loved not only by his fellow camp staffers, but all of the Boy Scouts who participated in programs he ran at the camp. The Golden Empire Council claims he was fired because he violated the camp’s dress code. But as his direct supervisor at the Camp Winton, I know this isn’t true. He was fired because of his sexual orientation. The men who fired Tim haven’t even stepped foot on Camp Winton this summer.

And now that about 80,000 people have signed their petition, they caught the attention of the local Fox News affiliate. In an interview with Tim and his supervisor the “no, no, no it was his nail polish” explanation seemed, well, absent of any truth. Instead what appears is that some scoutmasters didn’t like that Tim “presented himself” as too gay and wrote the council to complain. (And I think it’s fair to guess that it wasn’t the Methodists)

But, in response to all the press attention, the Golden Empire Council has decided to double-down on their explanation.

Contrary to media reports, the Golden Empire Council did not remove this camp staff member because of his sexual orientation or the BSA’s membership standards policy

Because why look like a bigoted troglodyte when you can look like a stupid lying bigoted troglodyte that kowtows to one church.

Obama joins Romney in opposing Boy Scout gay ban

A Commentary

Timothy Kincaid

August 9th, 2012

In 1994, Mitt Romney took a position in opposition to the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on gay scouts and said:

I feel that all people should be able to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation.

On Saturday, the Romney Campaign confirmed that “this remains Romney’s position today.”

Yesterday, President Obama joined his opponent in expressing his disagreement with the policy: (CSMonitor)

“The president believes the Boy Scouts is a valuable organization that has helped educate and build character in American boys for more than a century,” the White House statement said. “He also opposes discrimination in all forms, and as such opposes this policy that discriminates on basis of sexual orientation.”

The Boy Scouts responded with a brief statement from their national headquarters in Irving, Texas.

“The Boy Scouts of America respects the opinions of President Obama and appreciates his recognition that Scouting is a valuable organization,” it said. “We believe that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to accomplish the common good.”

I feel disappointed. President Obama’s position is weaker and more conciliatory than that of Mitt Romney. The President basically validated the “oh we can all disagree amiably” nonsense that the BSA has been throwing at the media. The existence of gay people, our validity as human, whether one’s innate attractions makes them inherently immoral, that’s all just a matter of opinion. Good people can disagree about that, you see.

No. They cannot.

This is not about a controversial issue, or even one for which counter arguments can be presented. This isn’t about whether civil unions provide adequate protection. It isn’t about military unit cohesion. It isn’t even about adoption policy.

This is about whether gay people can be let in the door. It’s just plain unvarnished discrimination: we won’t let you in because we don’t like you. That’s it. And I’m sorry, Mr. President, but both sides of that opinion are not equally moral. This is not an agree to disagree situation.

Either it is immoral and wrong to exclude gay youth for no reason other than their orientation, or it is not. And if it is immoral and wrong – so immoral and wrong that a growing number of people with deep devotion to the Scouts are breaking a tie that means the world to them – then a moral person cannot dismiss this so cavalierly.

I respect and appreciate the President. He has taken steps that have greatly advanced our equality. But it frustrates me to no end that every effort, every step has been long after others in his party have advanced and – in some instances – after Republicans have already gotten there. It should embarrass the President to lag behind Dick Cheney or Ted Olson; it should shame him to lag behind Mitt Romney.

President Obama, like all US Presidents over the past century, is the token president of the Boy Scouts. We know – there is absolutely zero question about it – that if the Boy Scouts banned members based on race that the President would refuse to hold that title. He would step away from the organization and explain that as President of all Americans in the political life of the country that he cannot be president of only some Americans in the life of scouting.

How is this different?

UPDATE: Mitt Romney’s full 1994 quote was:

“I believe that the Boy Scouts of America does a wonderful service for this country. I support the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue. I feel that all people should be allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation.”

I was unaware of the “wonderful service” component of that quote which makes the two statements much more similar, though 18 year apart.

Eagle Scouts Returning Badges Over Anti-Gay Policies

Jim Burroway

July 30th, 2012

The Chicago Tribune reports on Rob Breymaier, an Eagle Scout and ten-year Scout leader who is returning his Eagle award in protest over the Boy Scout’s double super-secret committee which reaffirmed Scouting’s anti-gay policies:

Breymaier, who put his medal in the mail Friday, said he spent 10 years as a Scout in his native Toledo, Ohio, and another 10 years as an adult leader of the same troop. As a leader, he said he never enforced the anti-gay policy, but it was difficult to do more than quietly flout the rule in his own group.

“It was a family, and it was hard to pull away from it,” Breymaier said. “I was fully aware that it was wrong, but speaking out against that could have gotten you kicked out.”

A Boy Scouts spokesman acknowledges that they have received five medals which have been returned in protest. A Tumblr, naturally, has been created featuring letters from 37 (so far) former Scouts and Scout leaders turning in their Eagle badges.

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