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):
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!!!
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.
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/,
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.