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Sheriff Baca, Long Beach, California, Rejects BSA's ban on Gays, says Local Troops Should Decide / Explorer Program May Get Pulled

PRESS TELEGRAM, December 12, 2000
604 Pine Avenue, Long Beach, CA, 90844-0001
(Fax: 562-499-1277 )
(Online Mailer:

Baca wants compromise on Scouts' policy on gays

By Stephanie Cain, Staff writer

Sheriff Lee Baca said Monday he will not be comfortable with the Boy Scouts of America's involvement in the Sheriff's Explorer Program unless the Scouts ease its policy of excluding gays and lesbians from Scouting activities.

The organization's assertion that as a private, nonprofit entity it has the right to exclude members based on religion and sexuality was upheld recently by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Baca said he is seeking a compromise in which local troops will be allowed to decide the issue.

"Why not just allow your local chapters to make the decision for themselves?" he said. "Let it not be a national policy where there's no opportunity for the parents of children who are not threatened by this sort of thing."

The Sheriff's Explorer Program is not directly affiliated with the Scouts, but rather with the national Living for Life Program, a subsidiary of the Boy Scouts of America that administers Explorer programs.

Baca said the heart of the conflict is an $8 insurance fee paid by each Explorer to the department, which then transfers that money to Learning for Life.

"There's a mixed message when I take money for insurance purposes and at the same time say it doesn't matter that the Boy Scouts have a homophobic policy," Baca said.

Baca said his immediate goal is to talk with Scout officials which he hopes will lead to discussions with the organization's national officials.

"I want to see some opening up," Baca said. "I don't want to hear about, 'It's a Supreme Court decision, so we can do it,' and just fold up your arms and say, 'It's legal.' I want to see some serious consideration."

This is all on the heels of the Los Angeles City Council's decision Nov. 28 to cut the youth group out of its police Explorers program and to block troops from using city property free of charge.

The City Council is now in a 90-day review period that allows all city agencies to review their relationship with the Scouts.

Baca said he might take a different approach.

"I'm not going to go to the city of Los Angeles and say, 'Show me the way,' " Baca said. "I think there's a better way."

The sheriff said the Scouts' policy goes directly against his own agency's core values, which include having the courage to stand against all forms of bigotry, including homophobia.

"I have always recited those core values, and I do not get any reprobation at all from anyone over those core values," Baca said.

Joey Robinson, spokesman for the L.A. Area Council of Boy Scouts, said the Boy Scouts of America is continuing its quest to separate from Learning for Life, which has no membership rules regarding religious beliefs or sexuality.

"Hopefully there can be a way to save the program," Robinson said. "In the end, the only ones who get hurt are the kids, by a policy that they didn't write."

Scouting For All Asks You to Support Sheriff Baca

Dear Friends:

If you've been reading the papers recently about the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) anti-Gay Supreme Court ruling, you will have also read that Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has taken a bold leadership role, telling the BSA that he plans to disassociate his department with the BSA Explorer program if they didn't take immediate steps to undo the policy.

He and LAPD Chief Parks met with the National Executive Director of the Boy Scouts of America and requested a meeting with the National Board of Directors in Texas during the month of February, 2001 hoping to open a dialogue with members of the National Board who are directly responsible for a policy that discriminates against gays and lesbians as scouts, scout
leaders and employees.

The Sheriff advised them that his decision to remain associated with the Boy Scouts depends on the National Board's ability and willingness to develop a new policy that will enable local scout councils to decide whether or not they would permit local scout programs to include people who may be gay or lesbian.

The Sheriff's Department policy and the laws of the County of Los Angeles prohibit discrimination because of sexual orientation, including in contracting, such as with the BSA Explorer program. Moreover, the Sheriff's Department Core Values call upon its personnel to have the "courage to stand against racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and bigotry in all its forms."

Sheriff Baca opposes the actions of the Boy Scout National Board that have established the Boy Scouts as a private organization that discriminates and advised them that unless his February meeting brings some compromise as he suggested he will not support continuing the Department's affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America.

Sheriff Baca has been a great supporter of the community and issues affecting lesbian and gays, including medicinal marijuana, needle exchange, same gender marriage and recruitment of lesbian and gay deputy sheriffs into his department.

Apparently, he has been getting hundreds of calls, letters, and e-mails in an orchestrated campaign from people opposing his position and his threat of bolting from the Explorer program. However, he has received virtually no support for the stand he has taken. Please write, fax, or e-mail the Sheriff and let him know that you support his effort to end discrimination in the Boy Scouts.

Sheriff Lee Baca
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
4700 Ramona Boulevard
Monterey Park, CA 91754
fax: (323) 267-6600
( (Sheriff Lee Baca)

Hey guys, this is the letter that I sent to the sheriff in LA county:

Sheriff Baca,

I would like to applaud your efforts at trying to get the BSA to rethink their stand on excluding homosexuals from their organization. Some places in America are not as progressive as Los Angeles. With help from people like yourself, hopefully one day this nation will truly be for all peoples. No bias or prejudice of any kind. Stand fast in your resolve. It is good to see a servant of the people enforcing all the laws of your community.

Ken Clayton
2799 Clear Creek Lake RD




Scouting For All is not an alternative scouting program.
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.

Any communications sent to Scouting for All or any Scouting for All representative may be published on the Scouting for All web site or in Scouting for All materials unless the communication specifically requests that it not be published.

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