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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.


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Should I Sign My Child Up with the Boy Scouts of America?


Opening Statement

This section was created to help parents and guardians make a decision as to whether they should sign their child up for the Boy Scouts of America's outdoor program for youth. The question that we must all ask ourselves now: Do we want our children to become a member of a youth program that is bigoted? The Boy Scouts of America has finally been "outed" as a bigoted organization with the recent Supreme Court decision.

Statement from Steven's Dad, Scott Cozza

When my wife and I signed our son Steven up as a member of the Boy Scouts of America we had no idea that they discriminated against gay youth and adults and atheists. I also signed up as an adult leader and began my volunteerism with the BSA as a WEBELO den leader for 2 years and followed Steven into the Boy Scouts program as an Assistant Scoutmaster. If we would have known then that the BSA
was a bigoted organization we would have not become members. When we signed up there was nothing written anywhere that gays or atheists couldn't enjoy the scouting program. Contrary to what the current leadership says, the Scout Law and Scout Oath have no mention of excluding our gay youth. They are wonderful documents, I wish we would all live by. James Dale and Tim Curren as well as Scott Pusillo and 1000s of others have been kicked out of scouting because of their sexual orientation. James, Tim and Scott were exemplary scouts and very loving human beings. Steven and I have come to know them personally.

When Steven and I found out, instead of leaving the program we had grown to love, but now had become ashamed of, we decided to try and create healing change from within as it teaches in the Scout Law and in the citizenship merit badge documents. This resulted in myself getting kicked out of my troop and the United Church of Christ being denied a troop because I was listed as the Scoutmaster of the troop. It also created problems for Steven. I as his dad was "banned" from associating with any scout units and the adult leaders both in his troop and at the local Redwood Empire Council made it very difficult for Steven to earn his Eagle. They told him he didn't believe in the Scout Law and that he didn't have the Spirit of an Eagle. If there is such a thing, Steven did not have the spirit of a "bigoted Eagle Scout" as many of those adult leaders had.

Knowing what I know today about the Boy Scouts of America being a bigoted youth organization, I would only sign my son up if I knew we were joining a troop or scout unit that had adopted an anti-discrimination policy for their troop. Steven and I had the misfortune when signing up for a scout troop to unknowingly join a troop that had bigoted leaders.

So I would recommend to all parents to sign your child up to join scouting, but only if the troop you join has adopted an anti-discrimination policy. As a parent I'd shop around for such a troop. Scout Units across the country are now beginning to adopt anti-discriminatory policies in opposition to the BSA's
bigoted practice. According to the Congressional Charter of 1916 scout units are supposed to remain autonomous from the BSA national in selecting their leadership.

Scott Cozza, President of Scouting For All
Proud father of Anne and Steven Cozza
Adult Leader BSA Merit Badge Counselor '00
"Banned" from Scout Units for my belief that
gay kids and adults and atheists should not
be discriminated against.


An open letter to The Boy Scouts of America

Subject: Taking the hard path, because it is right

Dear Sirs or Madam,

I am a 37-year-old former scout. I started with the Cub scouts in 1968. This was the year I moved to Ishmer, Turkey with my parents. I don't know if you remember what things were like in the late 60's and early 70's. Civil rights, Vietnam, riots, church bombing, police brutality. It was, to coin a phrase, the best of times; it was the worst of times. I had scouting to fall back onto. The word of the day was tolerance. My troop had a black kid in it. The first that any of us had ever heard of, he was small, scared and alone. Our den mom talked to use the day before he was to join, and she told us that keeping black and white people apart was wrong. She also told us that supporting segregation was morally wrong and was not part of being a scout. We all knew in our hearts that she was right, and when he showed up we welcomed him with open arms. Since there was a shortage of everything scout orientated in Turkey, there were no uniforms to be had. All of us collected what extras we had till we put a uniform together for him. He got my hat, I don't remember his name, but I remember that hat. That left a mark on me that I carry today. I was from a small town in East Texas that had a closed mind, and on that day I was awaken to a bigger world thanks to scouting and progressive scout leadership. Today it is common for children of all colors and backgrounds to scout together, but at that time it was as controversial as having someone that is gay in the scouts. Scouts led the way in 1968, it is my hope that they will remember and lead the way again, towards tolerance, kindness and community.

Sadly I will not be able to allow my children to join while the scouts persist in following a path of bigotry and intolerance. I hope that the BSA leadership will look into their past to the days when the path wasn't't so well lit, when we blazed a trail because bigotry is not morally straight. It wasn't easy, but it was right. Remember Bigotry is learned behavior, we teach it to our children.

You at Scouting for all have my complete support. Never give up, never give in, never compromise your principals. Scouting will lead the way again. Scouts know in their heart what the right thing is.

A personal note for Steven Cozza:
You are an inspiration to all. Your strength and courage is unmistakable. You make me proud to be a scout. You will win!

Sincerely,

Gary Teer



Here is my testimonial:

I Could Never Be A Boy Scout Now

I was a Cub Scout, then a Boy Scout in two different troops. I took my oaths very seriously and tried hard to live up to the Boy Scout standards. I tried always to be respectful to others, to help the community, and to learn the skills offered by the Scouts. But eventually I had to quit because of my commitment to some Boy Scout ideals. I wrestled with the need to speak the truth, in light of my uncertain religious beliefs. As a young person I wondered whether there was really a God whom I could honestly pledge allegiance to, both because I wasn't convinced that God existed, and because there was so much suffering and hate in the world that I wasn't sure I wanted to pledge to a God that condoned discrimination and violence in His name.

Another scout I knew always bragged about his success with girls, in a really crude manner. Later, he left scouting and I found out that he was gay, and just said those things out of fear that he'd be beaten up if anyone guessed his secret. His fears were justified: at our school a bisexual boy had a gun pulled on him in the auditorium and was repeatedly beaten up by gangs of football players. Some of those people who beat that boy up were Boy Scouts.

Now the scouts are openly discriminatory against my religion, Unitarian-Universalism, because it has taught me to love all people and to be honest and open in my spiritual life. These are not values that the Boy Scouts of America support. It is so sad that such a large and useful group has become co-opted by the worst elements of our society. I could never be a Boy Scout now because I'm still agnostic and I have many gay friends and family members whom I wouldn't want to turn away from.

Sincerely,
Jeff Wilson

7/11/00

A Letter to the Editor of www.Salon.com

by Tara Krause

I am a Cub Scoutmaster in New York City, and a lifelong Girl Scout. My first grader son is a fourth-generation Scout (both sides of the family, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts). My grandmother was a friend of Lord and Lady Baden Powell, the founders of Scouting.

With great sadness but determination, we are resigning from Boy Scouts of America. Despite all of the benefits that Scouting provides for both the youth and adults involved, we cannot stand with an organization that defines its moral message in bigotry. The Boy Scouts of America's strident and now legally won right to discriminate flies in the face of the values of good citizenship. Not only does it violate the local anti-discrimination laws of the school in which our pack meets, it violates international human rights norms and standards. As a parent, these are not "morally straight" and "clean" values I wish my son to learn. I am left with the haunting analogy of the Hitler Youth.

This is not the lesson I thought my son would learn this year when he proudly earned his Bobcat badge. But more than reciting an oath and the Law of the Pack, it is a lesson in life.

A note from Scouting For All:

Tara Krause, a mom who wants to instill values in her children that cherish the diversity of the human family. The BSA is now openly teaching our children through their practice of discrimination, hatred. Lets remember Matthew Shepard was killed by an Eagle Scout.


A Concerned Parent Expresses Herself

Out Front Colorado, Denver, Colorado on 8/23/00


On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty, to God and my country, and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight. (Boy Scouts of America Scout Oath)

Commentary By Susan Ramsey

My eight year old son Alex is an avid scouter. He loves scouting-the uniform, the discipline, the goals, the camaraderie, the ceremony, the outdoors. Cub scouting is one of his great passions, along with Little League Football, Elvis Presley, playing the flute and World War II history. As a Webelos, his mission this year is to finish all requirements to move to Boy Scouts, a year ahead of schedule, and so we dutifully work the requirements. I drill him on the Oath, Law, Motto and Slogan. And, of course, we discuss what they each mean.

Turning to the Boy Scout Handbook we read that morally straight is "To be a person of strong character, your relationships with others should be honest and open. You should respect and defend the rights of all people. Be clean in your speech and actions, and remain faithful in your religious beliefs. The values you practice as a Scout will help you shape a life of virtue and self-reliance." Cool! Next, I check out the BSA's website which tells me, "The BSA endeavors to develop American citizens who...have a deep respect for the basic rights of all people." Right on! And, of course, there's the Scout Law, including that Scouts be "Friendly: A Scout is a friend to all. He is a brother to other Scouts. He seeks to understand others. He respects those with ideas and customs other than his own." What a terrific program!

But then, there's that Supreme Court thing. That nasty ruling, and the ugliness on the part of the Texas bigots running the BSA. In June, the US Supreme Court ruled that the BSA can bar gays from being troop leaders. In fact, they ban gay scouts as well. In a news release issued the same day as the ruling, the BSA stated, "We believe an avowed homosexual is not a role model for the values espoused in the Scout Oath and Law." If your reading of the Oath and Law seems contrary to their homophobic position, you are not alone.

In 1997, Steve Cozza, a straight-identified 12 year old Scout, learned of the BSA's ban on gay youth and adults. He was so disturbed by the bigotry of the organization he loved that, with help from his dad, he formed Scouting for All, a non-profit dedicated to ending discrimination of the BSA. Today, Steve is an Eagle Scout and recently started a gay-straight alliance with his sister at their local high school. A petition drive he started has collected over 50,000 signatures and he has spoken nationally, most recently at the March on Washington, calling for the BSA to be true to its professed values.

Scott Cozza, Steve's father and the non-profit's President told Out Front Colorado, "We feel we are on the track of defending human rights against a terrible social injustice hurting both our gay and straight kids. It's pretty simple. The religious fundamentalists have taken over the BSA."

Scouting for All encourages those within the Scouting movement to seek change from within and not leave Scouting. They believe all Scout units and councils should adopt anti-discrimination statements to include sexual orientation in spite of the national BSA's position; they provide assistance to units that decide to do so. Some units have had such policies in effect since 1991 and none have lost their charters.

Many units use public facilities such as schools; Scouting for All calls on community members to ask for use of public facilities to be banned for units that will not adopt these policies if the facilities have non-discriminatory policies in place. The non-profit believes all public facilities, including meeting places, parks, and campgrounds should only be available to organizations that don't discriminate.

And they're going after the BSA's pocketbook as well. Nationwide, United Way provides over $80 million in funding to the BSA. A number of local branches have withdrawn their support since the Supreme Court ruling thanks in part to a letter writing campaign championed by Scouting for All.

My son's father (who is gay) and my partner have talked about the moral dilemma of allowing Alex to participate in a discriminatory organization. Ultimately, we decided that to deprive him of the benefits of scouting was asking a child to pay the price of our activism. We chose not to ask that of him, though we have told him about the policy. Scouting for All seemed a good candidate for our support while continuing Alex's participation locally. My ultimate hope is that the BSA will be so ccessful in teaching the values they espouse to my son that he will decide on his own to fight the BSA. And when that time comes, we'll be there to support him.

For more information, go to scoutingforall.org.

 

 

 

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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