Activist Groups Urge Obama to Reject Boy Scout Honor
From Fox News:
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.
Scouting for All is a 100% Volunteer 501-(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization. Every dollar donated goes toward our education and advocacy programs, and is tax deductible.
Washington Post, August 4, 2000
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Mentors for Gay Youth
By Chryss Cada, Special to The Washington Post
What they really want to know is if they're going to be okay.
Savannah asks how I figured out I was gay. Lei wants to know if she should come out in high school or after
graduation. Josh wonders how long before his parents will accept him.
From across the country they reach me through my Web page (www.chryss.com) with questions they feel they
have no one else to ask.
I'm glad they find me. Like so many of us do, I want to reach back and help young people along the path
I have traveled.
In our society no role is more valued or respected than that of a mentor -- except when that mentor is gay.
Despite growing tolerance, the prevailing tendency in this country is to "protect" young people from
gay adults. The more well-adjusted and successful the gay person, the more of a threat he or she poses.
It's why gay teachers are encouraged to stay in the closet, gays are kept from becoming priests in many denominations
and a gay man can't be a Boy Scout leader.
Beneath all the pontification and legal rationalization is a gut-level hope that "protecting" young
people from gay role models will keep them from turning out to be gay themselves.
I can understand the desire these misdirected efforts come from.
From what most straight adults have heard of gay life, it's the last thing they want for a child they care
about. Though things have gotten considerably better for gays in my lifetime, it's not the life I will hope for
for my children. It's not what my parents wanted for their daughter.
I can't say that I blame my parents for not really believing me when I first told them I was gay. Standing
before them making this announcement was the same teen who in that month alone had become a strict vegetarian,
joined a church they had never heard of and dyed her hair at least three different nature-defying colors.
It is out of protectiveness that they described gay people's lives as little more than survivable, filled
with isolation and discrimination.
But to deny teens role models is to deny them something that is critical at their stage of life -- someone
to turn to who understands what they're going through.
A stunning 75 percent of adolescent deaths are due to unintentional injuries, homicide and suicide associated
with high-risk behavior. Teens are significantly less likely to participate in those behaviors if they have an
adult mentor, according to a survey by the New York State Department of Health.
The need for mentors is even more pressing for gay teens. When young people discover this difference about
themselves, the secret they are coming to terms with separates them from their friends and makes them a minority
within their own families.
Without someone who understands, teens must shoulder alone the many lost expectations of being gay. Teens
struggling with issues of sexual orientation are three times more likely than their peers to commit suicide, according
to a study of teen suicide by the federal government.
As a volunteer with the local suicide prevention center, I've been trained to talk to teens about suicide.
The core of the prevention message is that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I believe
this is a critical message to get across. Unfortunately for gay teens, there's a catch in the equation. When
a teen realizes he or she is gay and is painted a bleak picture of the future by adults trying to "save"
him or her from it, the situation sounds painfully permanent. With no one to give them hope, far too many teens
see no point in going on.
Hopelessness is a killer as vicious as any disease and as ruthless as any sudden tragedy. It is a tragic
mistake to underestimate the burden being different places on a teen.
My brother, Mark, wasn't gay. He was, as my mom says, "too sensitive to survive in this world."
At the direction of others he was always trying to "toughen up" and be "more of a man." But
the boxing, the hunting, the football and all the other "macho" activities never took. He didn't fit
the male stereotype and knew he never would.
I wish he would have had the opportunity to spend time with a man like the one he would have grown up to
be. Mark was 15 when he committed suicide. He left me a note saying he didn't fit in and he would never grow
up to fit others' expectations of him.
In honor of my brother, I never tell teens to try to change who they are and always tell them that there
I think we all owe them more than our fears. Every teen deserves a role model, someone to show them that
they are, indeed, going to be okay.
Resources include: National Youth Advocacy Coalition, 202-319-7596; www.nyacyouth.org.