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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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Time's up for the Boy Scouts !

Time is up for American Library Association's relationship with the Boy Scouts of America.

April 24, 2006

After two years of debate in the late '90s the ALA Council voted that our concerns about BSA's discriminatory policies with regards to homosexuals and atheists, affecting scouts and scoutmasters alike, was putting us in conflict with some of our most basic principles. (See ALA Council Actions, 1999 ALA Midwinter Meeting (January 29-February 3, 1999, Actions of the ALA Council February 3 (?), 1999) Philadelphia, PA, Council III)

VOTED, To adopt CD#51-A, Resolution on the Boy Scouts of America, which read: "That the American Library Association urges the Boy Scouts of America to reconsider their policy of discrimination in the areas of sexual orientation and religious belief and demonstrate a commitment to human rights, inclusiveness, and mutual respect."(1998-99 CD#51-A)

Councilor Karen Schneider put this matter well back then:

"After two years of debate, it was agreed that as a group with a relationship to the Boy Scouts, what we wanted to do, and what we were in a very good position to do, is ask them to reconsider their policy--nothing more or less. Considering the reaction of other organizations to the Supreme Court decision, our response to an issue which the Boy Scouts alone chose to raise--no one asked them to start a witch-hunt on their gay members--was constructive, moderate, and prescient.

It was that Council vote that is responsible for why I am still in ALA. We all have our self-esteem issues, and those of us who are gay often find ourselves overlooking or rationalizing comments that were they directed at persons of color, women, the disabled, etc. would invoke outrage in ourselves as well as others. But I do get to decide where my money goes, and I would not, could not pay dues (not to mention attending conference, etc.--I recently totted up what I spent on ALA-related activities in the last decade, and it was not inconsiderable) to an organization that would not stick up for a significant percentage of its own members--those who are gay, and those who support gay rights--in such a modest, diplomatic, but ultimately important way. Karen G. Schneider"

The culminating official action to which Schneider refers was as follows:

Since then we have heard NOTHING about the response of the Boy Scouts of America to this resolution.

I would like Council to be able to see how this had been communicated to BSA by ALA and, hopefully, by ALSC; what their written/formal response was;how their response was communicated byh the EB to relevant sections; how the matter was publicized if at all, in order to actually put pressure on the BSA; what progress has been made, if any (there's has been NONE to my knowledge as of today) ; and what we intend to do about the apparent utter disregard by the BSA of our concerns. We know these practices of discrimination continue, are still being defended in the courts, and that many scouts and scoutmasters have been and are being affected adversely.

THis week I saw aired on HBO an current episode of Penn [Gillete] and Teller's "BULSHIT!!" in which these equal-opportunity debunkers took on the Boy Scouts and demonstrated the unreconstructed and even deepened nature of the BSA's commitment to bigotry and their domination by the Mormon Church, whose religious influence they essay.

It is intolerable now as it was in the 90s to be providing SPECIAL SERVICES to the BSA, in engaging in SPECIAL ORGANIZATIONL CO-ACTIVITIES, in CO-SPONSORSHIPS with an organization which brazenly and ever more extensively practices discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, religious belief, and sectarian "moral values".Serving the needs of members of the Boy Scouts is one thing, supporting the BSA, Inc. organizationally linking to them is QUITE another.

Penn and Teller, in their uniquely acute and acidic manner, point out that the BSA that they knew (which is the one I knew as a young scout) changed in the 1980s when it was virtually taken over by the Mormon Church (they present the numbers about Mormon influence and interviews with proponents of it). Of course it is not just Mormonism but to a lesser degree other religious fundamentalist organizations who exercise decisive determinant influence over the oaths and obligations of troops around the country. The national policy remains unequivocal rejection of the morality and fitness of homosexuals and atheists and their exclusion from or expulsion from the BSA.

It is time to tally the balance sheet here. In my estimate, NO progress has been made in their adjusting their behavior based on religious and sexual-orientation prejudice. If ALA remains committed to combatting those evils it is high time to re-open this chapter and say "They had their chance. They ignored our concerns. We must terminate any special relations to the BSA through designated liaisons, joint-programs etc.

I will be rallying support for this before the ALA New Orleans conference. There will be a resolution. There will be, if necessary a floor fight and this time I hope the majority is not bullied by special interests connected to the BSA to allow the argument of their "long term relationship" with an organization which radically changed its position on these matters for the´worse since the 80s (i.e. in the middle of that relationship) to use longevity as an argument for continuation.

I will. be bringing to Council a resolution along the following lines:

WHEREAS the American Library Association (ALA) has had a long official relationship with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), currently in the form, among other things, of a designated ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children liaison; and
WHEREAS ALA and units may provide bibliographies and other material and services to any organization with or without formal or official affiliation and therefore can continue to do due diligence; and
WHEREAS the BSA continues to exclude persons from membership and leadership on the basis of religious ideas and/or sexual orientation; and
WHEREAS ALA Policy 9.5 specifically prohibits ALA or its component units from having formal relationships with organizations which violate ALAís principles and policies regarding human rights and social justice; and
WHEREAS ALA policies 54/17 and 60.2 declare the Associationís support for gay rights and against creed-based discrimination; therefore be it
RESOLVED that the American Library Association calls upon ALA to suspend formal or official relations with the Boy Scouts of America until such time as the Boy Scouts of America ends its exclusionary policy on the basis of a personís religious beliefs or sexual orientation; and be it further

RESOLVED that the ALA once again strongly urges the Boy Scouts of America to change its membership practices so that they demonstrate a commitment to human rights, inclusiveness and mutual respect before prior relations with us can be restored.

I need a seconder and will send this immediately to the resolutions committee.

I am tired of seeing Council pass resolutions which like the previous one on the BSA are never monitored or reported back upon and for which no one takes responsibility. This time we should be decisive and see if that makes any difference. In any case, it's the right thing to do and the right time to finally do it.

Mark C. Rosenzweig
ALA Councilor at large




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.

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