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Activist Groups Urge Obama to Reject Boy Scout Honor

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Activist groups, including Scouting for All, urge President Obama not to accept the honorary Presidency of the Boy Scouts of America until they stop discriminating.


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A Scout Parent from the Grand Canyon Council, BSA, Phoenix, AR Speaks Out Against the Boy Scouts of America's Policy of Discrimination


2/7/01

Roy Williams, Chief Executive Scout

Boy Scouts of America, National Headquarters
PO Box 152079
Irving, TX 75015

Sonny Hayes, Scout Executive
Grand Canyon Council
2969 N. Greenfield Road
Phoenix, AZ 85016


Dear Mr. Williams and Mr. Hayes,

I'm writing as a father of two Cub Scouts in Dens 6 and 7, Pack 6, Grand Canyon Council in Phoenix, Arizona on the subject of the Boy Scout policy to exclude homosexuals from the organization. This is a policy with which I disagree, and which I hope the Scouts will choose to rescind in favor of simple silence on the matter.

I know a number of gay and lesbian individuals through work, church and over the years as friends. I cannot look them in the eye and tell them our family is associated with the Boy Scouts without feeling shame at what that now implies about my views towards them. That's why I feel compelled to do my part to encourage the Scouts to change their minds on excluding homosexuals.

I have read both sides of the recent Supreme Court decision on this issue. I've also seen the Boy Scout publication "In Support of Values" addressing this matter. Those who defend the Supreme Court decision sometimes try to argue that it's only about Scout leaders who are avowed homosexuals. I disagree. While the Supreme Court decision may be narrowly interpreted or applied, the basis for the Boy Scout's position is the belief that homosexuality is morally wrong and a threat to the rest of us.

Modern science is showing us that homosexuality is not a choice, but rather the way some people are born. Gay or lesbian people I hear from talk about "coming out", discovering who they really are, and in some cases leaving marriages at mid-life after suffering for years from split identities. I have never heard from any of these people about "making a choice" or being influenced in their choice of sexuality by a role model. They speak of who they really are, just as I would speak about being born a male.

My children know and are friends with many of these people. My wife and I are fairly protective over who our kids spend time with. Even so, we do not feel any particular threat to our children due to the sexual orientation of these people. To the contrary, our children see them visit our house, see them at our workplaces, and serve together in worship services at our church (Episcopal). The implied threat that homosexuals supposedly pose to young people is not there in our own real world experience.

The Scout Oath and Promise and the Duty to God are put forward as reasons why homosexuals should not be associated with Scouts. But let's face it -- there simply is no explicit language or direction in any of those things which address sexuality at all. The Scout leaders' manuals actually recommend staying away from topics of sexuality altogether. Some may choose to interpret the Oath and Promise or Duty to God as meaning that homosexuality is bad, but there are also those of us in Scouting who simply don't see that and don't believe that. The Scouts should not take sides on whether homosexuality is good or bad, but simply stay silent as an organization just like most other scouting groups in the world, including Campfire and Girl
Scouts in this country.

Having spoken for inclusion, I want to make clear that as parents we care deeply about proper supervision, safety and role models for our boys in all of their activities. We are confident that the Boy Scouts take seriously their existing policies for assuring that leaders are trained, screened and always with a leadership partner when with the boys in their units. We believe that adhering to these rules provides the necessary safeguards against child abuse, and are essential regardless of the sexual
orientation of the Scout leaders.

Finally, I want to urge that the future of Scouting is dependent on acceptance of a more open policy. Yes, I've heard that you've gotten lots of support from around the country for maintaining the policy on excluding gays. I also know that there is a sizeable group of people within Scouting who disagrees. The future of Scouting, though, is only partially dependent upon those of us here now. To remain a popular and well-supported institution I believe the Boy Scouts should not position itself at odds with a more inclusive and tolerant society. For instance, our pack is sponsored by public schools. Taking a stand against homosexuality is counter to the trend among public bodies to declare their programs and facilities open to all. The Boy Scouts are on the losing side of history on this one, and if Scouts doesn't change with the times then it becomes less attractive to the
community at large. I know many of our friends who choose not to join Scouts because they see it as exclusionary for religious and now sexuality reasons. The survival and support of Scouting as we know it will depend on the majority of Americans who are not Scout families being willing to allow Scouting to exist with the support of the community. Please don't make this tougher
than it has to be.

In addition to this letter, I wanted to show you that a significant number of Scouting leaders, families and Scouts themselves are opposed to the Boy Scouts policy of excluding gays. Enclosed are petitions from both our monthly Pack meeting (41 signatures, approximately half of those adults attending, 10/4/00), and those names collected at our Council's
recent Scout-o-Rama (380 signatures, collected on 11/4/00).

I hope that the Boy Scouts will change their course on this issue and do it sooner rather than later. This is an opportunity for leadership, and that is one of the values, in addition to tolerance, for which I am looking to the Scouts as a role model for my boys.

Sincerely,


Rob Smith

 

 

 

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We are an education and advocacy organization reaching out to gay and nontheist youth and adults in our effort to get the Boy Scouts of America to rescind its exlusionary policy.

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