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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.

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