Boys Scouts Board Member: Drop the Gay Ban
June 13th, 2012
James Turley, global chairman and CEO of tax firm Ernst & Young, also sits on the board of directors at Boy Scouts of America. In an interview with CNBC, Turley said that his experience led him “to believe that an inclusive environment” was “important throughout our society”:
“I support the meaningful work of the Boy Scouts in preparing young people for adventure, leadership, learning and service, however the membership policy is not one I would personally endorse,” he said in remarks made to CNBC. “ … I intend to continue to work from within the BSA Board to actively encourage dialogue and sustainable progress.”
Another board member, AT&T’s chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson, was supportive, but less willing to go out on a limb:
“Diversity and inclusion are part of AT&T’s culture and operations, and we’re proud to be recognized as a leader in this area,” he said in a statement to CNBC. “We don’t agree with every policy of every organization we support, nor would we expect them to agree with us on everything. Our belief is that change at any organization must come from within to be successful and sustainable.”
Boy Scouts To Review Anti-Gay Policy
June 6th, 2012
The Boy Scouts of America has announced that it will consider a resolution that would allow individual troops to accept gay adults as troop leaders. BSA spokesman Deron Smith however cautioned that he doesn’t expect the ban on gay scout leaders to be lifted anytime soon.
The resolution, submitted by a Scout leader from the Northeast, was presented last week at the Scouts’ national meeting in Orlando, along with a petition by presented by former Eagle Scout Zach Wahls. You may remember him as the Iowa college student who delivered a moving statement about being raised by two mothers before the Iowa House Judiciary Committee, which was considering a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Wahls presented a petition from Change.org bearing more than 275,000 names protesting the Boy Scouts’ decision to bar an Ohio lesbian mother from serving as a cub scout den mother.
Smith said that the resolution would be referred to a subcommittee, which would make a recommendation to the national executive board. He estimated that the process would probably take until May, 2013.
Judge: anti-gay activist can’t be kept out of pride event
June 25th, 2010
In a truly mind-boggling decision, a judge in Minneapolis has decided that an anti-gay activist must be allowed to distribute anti-gay literature within the park which the gay pride event has rented from the city.
A federal judge ruled Friday that a restraining order would violate Johnson’s First Amendment rights.
The city’s park system fought Pride Fest in court.
Since the Fest is held in a public park, attorneys for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board argued on Johnson’s behalf, although they insisted they were merely trying to clarify the rules and were not advocating one viewpoint over another.
To recap, just so we know the law,
- The Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which marches down public streets, has the right to exclude gay people from marching so as to protect its “message”
- The Boy Scouts of America, who recruit in public schools, have the right to exclude gay people because they have a freedom of assembly right
- The Boy Scouts have the right to insist that their discriminatory policies can’t be used to deny them taxpayer-funded free rent
- The Twin Cities Pride Fest doesn’t have the right to deny entry into a park that they rented to someone who is there for the sole purpose of working against their message.
Yeah. And we’re the ones who they say want “special rights.”
UPDATE: WCCO provides additional information:
In a footnote, Tunheim proposed a compromise in which Twin Cities Pride could designate content-neutral “free speech zones” where anyone could distribute literature or display signs.
Pragmatically, they may be smart to allow such a zone. It would minimize disturbances and confrontations and would allow those who are there to seek a space where they can feel safe and free from hostility can avoid the area.
Johnson, of course, doesn’t want to be restricted in any way.
You can’t even buy a right
June 23rd, 2010
Two stories today reflect how issues of justice, rights, fairness, and civil responsibility are often presumed to disappear the minute that gay folk arrive. Far too often it is assumed, indignantly, that civil governments belong to heterosexuals.
Take, for example, the situation in Philadelphia.
In 2000, the US Supreme Court found that the Boy Scouts of America are a private organization and that their freedom of association allowed them to exclude gay and/or atheist boys and men from participating. And I agree with that decision; the Boy Scouts should be able to limit their membership in whatever manner that they choose.
However, if they choose to operate as a private organization, they are not entitled to preferential treatment from the taxpayers, who include a large number of gay people, atheists, and their family, friends, neighbors, and allies. In other words, discriminate however you like, but don’t do it on my dollar.
In Philadelphia the city counsel had passed protections that banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. But they found that they were in conflict with this policy when it came to the Boy Scouts. The Cradle of Liberty council has been leasing nearly 2,000 square feet of office space from the city at the cost of one dollar per year. So Philadelphia said that the local group either needed to renounce the discrimination policies of the national group or they were not going to get any more freebies.
But the leadership of the Boy Scouts believe that they are entitled to have it both ways. It’s discrimination, they cried, to not give us free rent. We can exclude who we want, and to insist that we open our city funded doors to all residents is a violation of our free speech rights.
So they went to court arguing that not only are they entitle to free assembly and free speech but that they are also entitled to free rent.
And a jury agreed. (WHYY)
A jury in Philadelphia has decided the city cannot evict a local Boy Scouts group from a city-owned building because of a national policy that bans gays.
Cradle of Liberty Council lawyer Jason Gosselin says the ruling means one simple fact: the Scouts can stay in their building in Center City rent free.
Meanwhile in Minneapolis, it seems like gay people don’t have a right to assembly, even if the city isn’t subsidizing them. (Tribune)
The gay pride organization paid the city more than $36,000 for the use of a park. And they are trying to keep an evangelist from coming into the festival and disrupting the event.
But the city thinks that the preacher has a right to free speech – something that is startlingly missing from gay folk.
But Pride Festival organizers say they have the right to keep Johnson off the grounds because they paid more than $36,000 for the use of the park. Festival manager Jim Kelley says Johnson is free to preach his message across the street.
The Minneapolis Park Board is backing the activist on free speech grounds, so the festival organziers are going to court Wednesday seeking an injuction to reverse that decision.
Mormon/Boy Scout sexual abuse problem
March 19th, 2010
Across the country boys bond in scouting, enjoying the experience of nature, learning social values, and earning recognition for doing good deeds. And the Boy Scouts of America provide a memorable and often rewarding experience for boys – provided that these boys are not same-sex attracted or skeptical about the Abrahamic God.
But for fourteen percent of Scouts, their experience could be more accurately described as religious training in the beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the “Mormons”). Unlike a scouting group hosted by the local Methodist Church which meets in their basement, for the Mormons scouting is a part of the church, an official teaching mechanism that places theology as a higher priority than socialization. It serves not only for inculcating the beliefs of the church, but as an outreach tool.
Elder Robert Backman was recognized by the Boy Scouts of America in 1986 for his efforts in incorporating Scouting into the LDS Church’s Young Men organization. He is quoted in the Aaronic Priesthood Boy Scout Guide:
As you know, we are vitally concerned about our youth and feel that with the proper attention we can save many more than we are doing at the present time. I am convinced that Scouting is a mighty activity arm to hold these boys close while they learn to appreciate the honor of holding the priesthood of God.
If we do all else and lose the young man, we have failed in our sacred stewardship. We must not allow a separation of priesthood, Scouting, or athletics.
Every phase of the Scouting program should help young men and their leaders understand that Scouting activities are carried out to accomplish priesthood purposes.
For Mormons, family is a valued concept. But part of the definition of “family” is the concept of church brotherhood and the expectation that Mormons will raise their children to be integrated into the faith at a young age. Scouting is more of an expectation or obligation than an optional club.
And evidence is arising that the Boy Scouts of America may have taken steps to hide evidence of sexual abuse. And they may have done so for decades. (No. County Times)
The “perversion files,” a nickname the Boy Scouts are said to have used for the documents, have rarely been seen by the public, but that could all change in the coming weeks in an Oregon courtroom.
The lawyer for a man who was molested in the 1980s by a Scout leader has obtained about 1,000 Boy Scouts sex files and is expected to release some of them at a trial that began Wednesday. The lawyer says the files show how the Boy Scouts have covered up abuse for decades.
And it further appears that the Mormon Church may have played a roll in giving some predators access to children.
The lawsuit also named the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because the Mormons acted as a charter organization, or sponsor, for the local Boy Scouts troop that included the victim. But the church has settled its portion of the case.
The Mormon bishop who also served as head of the Scout troop, Gordon McEwen, confronted Dykes after receiving a report of abuse by the mother of one boy in the troop in January 1983.
In a video deposition played for the jury, the bishop said Dykes admitted abusing 17 boys. But McEwen said he contacted the parents of all 17 boys and the boys themselves, and none would confirm any abuse.
Dykes was arrested in 1983 and pleaded guilty to attempted sexual abuse, received probation and was ordered to stay away from children.
Clark told the jury Dykes continued with his scouting activities until he was arrested in July 1984 during a routine traffic stop while he was driving a van full of Scouts on a camping trip.
It has yet to be determined whether Mormons are a significant segment of the thousands of Boy Scout sexual abuse cases. But this is not the first time that the Church has been accused of enabling predators.
The three men, who are brothers now aged 39, 41 and 43, claim that William E. Knox, 65, a Mormon church and Boy Scouts leader, molested them repeatedly in Sunnyvale between 1977 and 1987.
A brother identified as John Doe 2, who now lives in Georgia, said, “I’m a victim and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. It was devastating to me. I’ve been abused hundreds of times over several years.”
The brother alleged, “During the abuse, I told the church leadership responsible to protect me and they did nothing to protect me.”
The Idaho Falls Post Register chronicles a story of abuse at an LDS scouting camp in the 1990′s which boggles the mind.
1988 Brad Stowell, 16, admits to Blackfoot police, his mother and his LDS bishop that he molested a 6-year-old neighbor. He is sent to LDS Social Services counseling.
1988 Stowell is hired to teach first aid at Camp Little Lemhi. He has testified he started preying on campers that summer.
1991 Richard J. Scarborough reports to the national Boy Scouts of America that a child molester has been hired to work at Camp Little Lemhi.
January 1994 Richard Scarborough writes to the LDS church president, complaining that local church leaders are ignoring his warning about the pedophile in the LDS Scout troop.
January 1995 Carol Scarborough tells Camp Little Lemhi program director Jim Summers that Brad Stowell molested a neighbor boy.
1995 Camp Little Lemhi director Richard Snow hires Stowell as aquatics director.
It continues in horrifying detail until Stowell is arrested in 1997 after repeated abuse.
And such abuse will continue for as long as the Scouts (and the Mormons and the Catholics and a whole host of other) continue to focus on and exclude gay people while ignoring the true source of the problem. They fear and expel gay men who are attracted to other adult men while ignoring the married, church going, men who secretly prey on available children of both sexes.
Now advocates for victims of child abuse are eagerly awaiting what the newly opened files will tell them. I’m certain that the Scouts are worried. I wonder if the LDS Church has reason to be concerned.
UK Scouts Condemn Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill
March 1st, 2010
On first blush, that’s doesn’t look like a headline that would strike fear in the hearts of those who support Uganda’s proposed “kill the gays” bill, but there is an important angle to it. Ugandan Member of Parliament David Bahati, sponsor of the notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill, also happens to be chairman of Uganda’s Scouts Board.
According to a press release from UK LGBT advocate Peter Tatchell, the Chief Executive of the Scout Association UK, Derek Twine, has condemned the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill as “discriminatory and contrary to the sanctity of life, [and] completely incompatible with our interpretation of the values of our worldwide Scouting Movement.” Twine continues:
We have already drawn our grave concerns on this to the attention of the Secretary General of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM), and we are subsequently aware that the issues are now subject both to WOSM’s direct engagement with the Chief Scout of Uganda (Mrs Maggie Kigozi) and to ongoing global consideration by members of the World Scout Committee.”
“Scouting is very big in Uganda and Mr Bahati derives great prestige from his position as Chairman of the Scout Association of Uganda. If we can get him removed from office it will be a significant personal blow to him. He’ll be weakened and his credibility undermined.
“OutRage! is urging the disaffiliation of the Ugandan scout organisation from the world scouting movement, as a way of adding further pressure on the Ugandan government to drop the Bill. Our request for disaffiliation was immediately forwarded by the Scout Association UK to the World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM) in Geneva.
More on the “Kill The Gay Scouts” Meme
February 16th, 2010
I didn’t like the whole “kill the gay Ugandan scouts” meme, and felt the need to set the record straight. But I have to admit that it appears to have gotten the attention of the world scouting headquarters in Geneva, according to a press release Peter Tatchell sent to BTB:
“The world scout headquarters in Geneva has written to the Chief Scout and the Chief Commissioner of the Uganda Scout Association concerning the Anti-Homosexuality Bill and the sponsorship of this Bill by the Chairman of the Uganda Scout Board, David Bahati MP,” reports LGBT human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell of OutRage!
“This swift response came just hours after protests against Mr Bahati to the Scout Association UK by the London-based LGBT human rights group OutRage!.
“OutRage! is urging the disaffiliation of the Ugandan scout organisation from the world scouting movement, as a way of adding further pressure on the Ugandan government to drop the Bill.
“Our request for disaffiliation was immediately forwarded by the Scout Association UK to the World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM) in Geneva.
“OutRage!’s actions are an attempt to open up a new front in the campaign against the Bill and to graphically expose the ramification’s of the proposed legislation on youth and civic organisations in Uganda (which has received little coverage so far).
“By highlighting the particular threat to LGBT scout members, we have not intended to detract in any way from the wider issues and consequences of Mr Bahati’s draconian legislation.
“LGBT scouts and scout leaders are, of course, only one section of the Ugandan LGBT community. All Ugandan LGBTs are at risk if this Bill becomes law. We are concerned about the danger to them all – and the threat to their straight families, friends, supporters and allies,” said Mr Tatchell.
LAPD drops ties with the Boy Scouts
December 28th, 2009
In 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”.
Anti-Gay Policies Endanger Children
December 5th, 2007
For many years, anti-gay activists have strived to convince the American public that gay people are inclined to molest children. They create fraudulent “statistics” that define every man that molests a male child as “homosexual”, even though this man may be married to a woman, have also molested many female children, and have no interest whatsoever in adult men.
It is true that some gay men are predators, as are some heterosexual men. But there is no clear evidence that gay men are any more likely to molest children than straight men.
Nonetheless, parents and other good intentioned people can fall victim to this anti-gay propaganda. And, seeking to protect innocent and vulnerable children, they can be swayed to take anti-gay actions that do not in any way benefit children. Often these actions can result in quite the opposite, direct harm to kids.
Take, for example, the Boy Scouts’ policy of excluding gay scouts and leaders. I believe that this policy, while it may feel to some parents as though it is a protection, actually places children in greater harm.
It does this in two ways. First it provides a false sense of security. Parents may believe that no one is going to be sexually interested in their children because there are no gay men involved. And any unusual behavior or undue attachment may be overlooked.
Second, those kids who are experiencing same sex attractions have no roll models or confidants with whom they can talk. They are left at the mercies of whomever is willing to listen. And this is a pedophile’s dream.
Sadly, the harm of this anti-gay policy is illustrated today.
In 1997, the city of Berkeley stated that it could not subsidize organizations that exclude residents based on sexual orientation or religion. Leader Eugene Evans led the charge – all the way to the Supreme Court – to fight for free berthing. The Sea Scouts did not win their battle, but Evans did become a darling of anti-gay activists. And surely parents felt safer knowing that their children were sailing with a man who was an anti-homosexual warrior.
But now Evans has been arrested for molesting at least four of the boys under his charge.
This sad example makes clear two things. First, identifying as gay or as anti-gay are not indications of pedophile tendencies or behavior. Parents should not fear gay men more not place greater trust in anti-gay activists. Second, policies that exclude gay men and women add no further level of protection and may, indeed, serve to lower a parent’s guard.
Unfortunately, there will still be those who are willing to sacrifice the innocence or protection of children to advance their anti-gay goals.
Hat tip Pam’s House Blend