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Press Release
For Immediate Release and Distribution
August 10, 2003

Boy Scouts of America Tells Venture Crew 488 to retract it's Anti-Discrimination Statement or get booted out of Scouting

For further Information Contact Bev Buswell, Crew Adult Leader - Tel: 707-829-8427

Protest scheduled August 21, 2003 (see details below)

"The Boy Scouts of America continue to support its discriminatory policy against gay and atheist youth and adults. They are now kicking out a Venture Crew just because it adopted an anti-discrimination policy. We must pressure businesses, United Ways and other funders to stop funding any "private organization" that discriminates and teaches its youth that discrimination is ok in some cases. Boycott any business that funds the BSA. We must ask our city, state and federal government to stop granting the BSA special privileges such as free use of buildings and land. Our city, state, and federal government should not be using tax payer monies to support a bigoted organization." Scott Cozza, Pres Scouting for All www.scoutingforall.org

Venture Crew 488, Sebastopol, California, Sonoma County: Boy Scouts of America says, "Retract Your Anti-discrimination Statement Or We'll Kick You Out"

Our local scout council has given us the choice to either retract our anti-discrimination statement or leave scouting. Please everyone come and assist us in protesting this action and BSA's discrimination. More on our group and the issue is below along with websites for further info. Watch Sonoma West Times and Press Democrat over the next couple of weeks for articles (you're encouraged to send this to other papers/TV,.. or/and write editorials in response for further support). I will send another email with attached fliers to help distribute, but here's the flier contents by cut and paste (so pardon the capital letters):

PROTEST

BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA
REDWOOD EMPIRE COUNCIL
2240 PROFESSIONAL DRIVE, SANTA ROSA
SPREADING TO CORNER OF
STEELE LANE AND ADMINISTRATION DRIVE
THURSDAY, AUGUST 21, 2003
3:30 -6:30 PM

OUR LOCAL SCOUT OFFICE HAS THROWN OUT SEBASTOPOL SCOUT GROUP FOR THEIR ANTI-DISCRIMINATION STATEMENT

STOP THE HURT TO THOSE EXCLUDED BY SEXUAL ORIENTATION OR RELIGION!

SCOUTING IS FOR EVERYONE!!
WE WILL NOT HAND SCOUTING OVER!!!
SAVE SCOUTING!

DO NOT BE AFRAID TO STAND UP FOR INJUSTICE!!

IF YOU ARE A MEMBER OF SCOUTING, IT'S YOUR SCOUT DUTY! PROUDLY COME AND WEAR YOUR UNIFORM.

I'll send the actual fliers separate since some people's email is set up to block attachments. If you want more info, read on. If not, just please come out on the 21st and stand in solidarity with Venture Crew 488 and stand up to BSA to ask that they stop their unjust policies of discrimination. Please forward this to everyone you know. A big turnout will make a big difference. Thanks so much.

Bev Buswell


Background:

Venture Crews operate under BSA (Boy Scouts of America) as a coed unit for boys and girls ages 14-20 with the purpose of exploring high adventure activities (backpacking, rafting, rock climbing, snow shoeing, etc.). BSA has had a practice for many years of exclusion against gays and atheists, but not a policy. In recent years, they have made it official policy that a member cannot be gay or atheist. Most other countries do not have this kind of discrimination in their scouting groups and are appalled at the U.S.

Many, many people have been booted out of scouting because they are gay, atheist, or even just verbally stand up against discrimination. Even in Sonoma County. Some young adults in the US who had proudly earned their Eagle Rank have had it literally revoked by BSA by discovering that the young men were homosexual or atheist. I've heard of a boy pulled from camp and sent home and kicked out of scouts when he confessed to someone that he was gay. This is absolutely wrong and must be stopped. Gay youth have a tremendous suicide rate from this kind of slap to who they are. We all have a responsibility to stand up against this kind of injustice.

You can get a lot of info on the history of BSA's discrimination and their actions of booting out other individuals, units, and councils for their stand against discrimination or for being gay or atheist along with what you can do to help by looking at websites such as http://www.bsa-discrimination.org/index.html . That's a great factual, non-stance site. See the article on a whole council (the 3rd largest in US) that put in an anti-discrimination statement at http://www.bsa-discrimination.org/WOSM/wosm.html. It would be good to reference this in a letter to our local council urging them to do the same. Also check out www.scoutingforall.org , http://www.uua.org/news/scouts/, http://www.inclusivescouting.net/, http://www.outscouts.org. A great short list on how to help is at http://www.geocities.com/his_s4a/list.htm with addresses to write. Our local council address is above, as that's where we'll be protesting.

Our group, Venture Crew 488 (then Explorer Post 488) was started in 1996 by Gary and Sheredith Maresh. In May 1997 I became an associate leader ("advisor") and my daughter and about 4 of her friends joined on a white water raft trip, growing to about 25 members by winter when I became the lead advisor of the group. I've now had about 80 members (inc. leaders) go through my group. Many say this has changed their lives (one even wrote her college entrance essay on the personal challenge faced in getting through one of our caving experiences). The environmental ethics and appreciation these kids have gotten is much needed in today's world. I have a committee of helpful adults to assist in decision making and trips and we've been chartered by our supportive Kiwanis. In both the winter of '99-00 and the following winter, I sent a letter to BSA stating I would not be following their policy to discriminate. In winter '01-02 I sent my annual letter along with an official looking
"anti-discrimination statement" stating Crew 488 would not discriminate against race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. This winter we turned it in along with our re-charter application (annual renewal application due in winter of each year) and they denied the recharter unless we retract the statement. That must have been their limit. They could not pretend they didn't see it perhaps if it was in the recharter package? I appreciate the years they allowed me to operate with the statement, but we need to make it official and we need to help BSA see they have to face this necessary paradigm shift.

If you have ever been in scouting, you know how precious scouting is. I've been involved in scouting from tagging along with my Dad's troop to being an Explorer Scout in 2 posts as a teen; den mother and activities chairperson of my son's cub scout pack; assistant scoutmaster, high adventure chairperson, merit badge counselor and assistant at summer camp for my son's Troop 27; finally associate advisor and then advisor for the Venture Crew I've been running now for 6 years. My son Evan got
his Eagle Rank in 1999. If you've been in scouting, you know how much scouting can give a youngster. You know how important it is that we don't let scouting move to the fringes of society who exclude people based on their religion or sexual orientation. You know scouting is being taken from so many youth because their families refuse to be a part of a discriminating organization. You have a scout duty to stand up for injustice and to save scouting. I taught the Citizenship merit badges, I know. You know from all scouting has taught you. Please be brave and stand up and do what you can to save scouting. Before it takes decades to resurrect their image and enrollment, let's bring it back for all kids.

Thanks for your interest (you must be to have read this far). If you want to see my letters or anti-discrimination statement, just email me and I'll send them. I do hope you and a group of friends, family, or scouting buddies will show up for the protest on the 21st. Feel free to contact me with any questions. Please do forward this to everyone you know who might help.

Bev Buswell
829-8427

 

 

 

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