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Scouting for All goes to Europe

For Immediate Release

Monday, July 30, 2001


Petaluma, CA - Ever since the Supreme Court decision last year allowing the Boy Scouts of America to openly discriminate against gay youth and adults, most of the debate has remained within this country. That will all change, now that Scouting For All has been asked to take their message of inclusion in Scouting to Europe.

Scouting For All was invited by the Swedish Scouting Association to participate in their International Jamboree "Scout 2001" from July 29 through August 5. Through the generosity of the Swedish Guide and Scout Council, Scouting For All will be represented by three Regional Directors, Mark LaFontaine (Southern), Wil Fisher (Northeastern) and Dave Perry (Midwestern), and will lead discussions and presentations on the issue of "Discrimination in Scouting in America." These presentations will educate over 25,000 youth and their leaders as to the harm discrimination in Scouting can cause and how to initiate change to end the prejudices that face the youth of the world today. Scouting For All will hold their workshops in the Global Development Village as an external organization. "Scout 2001" will have over 25,000 participants from over 30 countries around the globe.

Scouting For All will also present a formal request to the World Committee of the World Organization of the Scouting Movement (W.O.S.M.) for condemnation of the discriminatory practices of the Boy Scouts of America.W.O.S.M. has many requirements for a national organization to retain its charter membership in World Scouting. The Boy Scouts refusal to allow certain religious denominations to charter troops, in conjunction with their control by certain other religious groups, and discriminatory policies against gays stands in blatant violation of these requirements.

Scott Cozza, President of Scouting for All says," the World Organization of the Scouting Movement in Geneva allows Scouting to be culturally driven in each country as long as the Scout Oath and Law are upheld. Currently in America the Boy Scout's of America are not being culturally driven. The BSA is following a religious fundamentalist doctrine which excludes all other ideologies, and persons who don't adhere to that doctrine." Cozza, says, "We live in a pluralistic society, made up of a diversity of religious beliefs, races, and cultures. The current BSA does not reflect that diversity when it excludes persons based on their sexual orientation (youth and adults), atheists, and those who believe in the Scouting movement but oppose the BSA's
current discriminatory policy. The BSA is in clear violation of the W.O.S.M expectation that Scouting Associations should reflect the culture of the country they are located in."

# # # #
Sweden: Ask for Press Center Scout 2001, +46-44-108400 e-mail:
Attn: Mats Pettersson
Please contact between 6:00am and 3:PM EST

USA: Scouting For All, (707) 778-0564, pager: 650-997-4303

Letter to the World Organization of the Scouting Movement from Scouting for All and Its Supporters in the United States of America and Throughout the World

July 25, 2001

World Organization of the Scouting Movement
Box 24
1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland

Re: Discrimination by Boy Scouts of America contrary to Fundamental Principles of Scouting

Dear Sirs:

The purpose of this letter is to petition for intervention by the World Organization of the Scouting Movement, with respect to certain policies by the Boy Scouts of America. The cited policies of the BSA stand in obvious violation of essential principles of the World Organization. The policies of the BSA are grievously harmful to a significant number of youth. We request that the World Organization investigate these complaints, and pursue appropriate corrective actions.

This letter is organized in sections as follows:

1. First complaint: Membership in the BSA is not open to all. The BSA discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation, and on the basis of religion.

2. Second complaint: The BSA is not independent. The BSA policies align closely with those of one church, and contrary to beliefs and policies of other churches.

3. An assertion: That discrimination is harmful to gay youth, and contributes to an alarming rate of suicide attempts among gay youth.

4. A petition: Intervention by the World Organization of the Scouting Movement may help to bring an end to the harmful policy.

Membership in the BSA is not open to all

The BSA prohibits membership of certain persons based on their sexual orientation. The BSA prohibits membership of certain persons based on their religious beliefs. Finally, the BSA prohibits certain churches from sponsoring Scouting units. The BSA policy prohibiting membership to homosexuals is well known and well documented. The BSA has been involved in a number of legal actions in the United States in which the BSA has clearly stated and defended the policy. Recently, the BSA appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States to support its policy of discrimination. Extensive documentation of that case is available online.

When asked why the BSA excludes gay boys and men, BSA representatives assert the BSA's right to freedom of association, and points to the requirement in the scout oath that both boys and adult leaders must be "morally straight." When asked what moral authority supports their assertion that gays cannot be morally straight, BSA representatives beg the question by asserting that gays cannot be good role models for boys. The BSA officially claims moral authority without reference to any religious or
philosophical source. Their argument is facially defective, as any assertion of moral authority must be based on either religious interpretation or philosophical argument.

In the broader American society, discrimination against gay persons is commonly based on the teachings of certain churches. This type of discrimination is generally viewed as being wrong and not acceptable to most Americans.

The arguments of those churches that gay persons cannot be moral are uniformly based on interpretation of only a few Bible verses in certain English translations of the Bible. Respected academic studies of Bible history and translation dispute those interpretations. Several concise surveys of the academic material are available, including a recent survey by Dr. Helminiak. A thorough history is due to Dr. Boswell. The correct translation and interpretation of these verses is a subject of ongoing dispute
between churches. Different Christian churches interpret those verses differently.

A number of churches have concluded that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is contrary to their religious beliefs. Many church leaders and laymen have expressed their beliefs that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is wrong. These expressions of religious belief have lead to a conflict between the BSA and various churches.

The BSA has excluded heterosexuals for expressing their religious belief that discrimination against homosexuals is wrong, including Scott Cozza and David Rice. By excluding heterosexuals who disagree with the policy, the BSA seeks to prevent any serious discussion of changing the policy.

The policy of discrimination elevates the teachings of one church above those of other churches, and fails to respect the religious beliefs of those other churches. This fact is witnessed by the vigorous disputes between BSA and numerous churches, including the United Methodist Church, the Unitarian Universalist Church, the United Church of Christ, the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, and other churches.5-10 In each case, the church holds that the BSA position is contrary to the religious beliefs of the church. In several cases, the BSA has refused to issue charters for troops to be sponsored by a church, on the basis that the religious beliefs of the church are inconsistent with BSA policy.

The BSA is Not Independent

The BSA freely admits that it is greatly influenced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (a.k.a. the Mormons) (LDS). Some 21 percent of youth members, and more than 25 percent of national council adult leaders, are in the LDS church. The LDS church effectively controls the BSA. The LDS has threatened to withdraw its support from the BSA if the BSA fails to
discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.11 The BSA has specifically acknowledged that it has acceded to that threat.

The Suicide Rate of Gay Male Youth

The American Psychological Association (APA), in conjunction with numerous professional and educational organizations, has concluded that the experience of gay, lesbian, and bisexual teenagers is often one of isolation, fear of stigmatization, and lack of peer or familial support. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth have few opportunities for observing positive modeling by adults due to the general cultural bias that makes gay, lesbian, and bisexual people largely invisible. This isolation and lack of support accounts, at least in part, for observed higher rates of emotional distress, suicide attempts, and risky sexual behavior and substance abuse.12 Hence, discrimination and condemnation by the BSA contributes to the high incidence of suicide and substance abuse by sexual minority adolescents.

Numerous research studies have been completed to quantify the fraction of teenagers who are sexual minorities (gay or lesbian), and the rate of suicide and substance abuse by those youth. Results of more than 30 independent studies13 confirm that:

1. At least 5.5% of male teenagers are gay;

2. About 30% of gay male teenagers attempt suicide each year; and

3. More than 60% of all male suicides are gay males.

The studies count only "failed" suicide attempts, because they are based on polling the surviving population. Boys who committed "successful" suicides are not included. If "successful" suicides could be counted, the numbers would be larger.

The United States Census indicates that there are slightly more than two million boys at each age from 10 through 19. (20 million total for the ten years of age). In the following, we consider only the 15-year-old boys, which were the study population for a number of the studies surveyed by Tremblay. Applying the statistical results surveyed by Tremblay, we may draw several
statistical inferences:

1. There are at least (2,000,000 x .055) = 110,000 gay 15-year old boys.

2. About (110,000 x .3) = 33,000 suicide attempts were committed within the last year by those boys.

3. About (110,000 x .3) = 33,000 additional suicide attempts will be committed within the next year by 15 year old boys.

4. Other ages (14-19) can be expected to have similar suicide statistics.

Hence, we may say with very high confidence that at least 100,000 suicide attempts occur among gay youth in the unites states, each year Most of those suicide attempts could be avoided, if the discrimination and religious condemnation could be eliminated from the society.

Policies of discrimination, coupled with false assertions of moral authority by organizations such as the BSA, serve to encourage
discrimination and condemnation at the personal level. That discrimination and condemnation, in turn, causes tens of thousands of youth to die each year. The BSA contributes to the death toll by encouraging discrimination.

Intervention by the WOSM is Needed

The World Organization of the Scouting Movement requires that all national Scouting organizations must obey certain principles.14,15 These principles include: Membership must be open to all persons, without any distinction of origin, race or creed; Every national scout organization must respect the beliefs of all religions, and allow each boy and each adult to be faithful in his (her) own religious beliefs; Scouting must be open and honest in its dealings with all people; and Scouting must be independent. The last principle is interpreted specifically to require that sponsorship by a religious or community organization must never result in a national scout organization being controlled by that organization or being perceived as being subordinate to it.

As outlined above, the BSA is in flagrant violation of those mandatory WOSM principles and policies. Efforts by individual and organizations within the USA have not yet yielded any change in BSA policy. Several lawsuits by individuals, seeking to overturn the BSA policy by legal means, have been decided under US law. The courts have decided that the BSA has the legal right to discriminate, because it is a "private organization."

Under United States law, the BSA has the legal right to discriminate, but that does not make discrimination a wise choice. Discrimination necessarily involves violating the foundational principles of Scouting, including the principle that Scouting is open to all, and the principle that the Scouts must respect the religious beliefs of all persons. That violation of principle has damaged the reputation of the BSA far worse than anything that could be done by any outsiders.


Scott Cozza, President
Scouting For All

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