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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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DATE: June 28, 2000


Dear Fellow Scouts and Scouters:

A Call To Action

Scouting For All, a national educational and advocacy 501C-3 nonprofit organization composed of Scouts, former Scouts and their friends, calls upon all individual Boy Scouts and Scout leaders throughout the United States to take a stand against discrimination within the BSA.

What Has Happened?

In the last several years, the BSA national office has expelled from Scouting anyone who has been identified as a gay person, regardless of their good behavior or high accomplishments. They have even expelled non-gay persons who have objected to this bigotry. Furthermore, they have stated that any gay person is not acceptable as a Scout by definition, not based upon their behavior, abilities or accomplishments. As a young assistant Scoutmaster in New Jersey, James Dale took legal action against the BSA upon his expulsion from Scouting, asking to be reinstated. Although the New Jersey Supreme Court agreed with Dale, the BSA appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States issued their judgment in the Dale case, reversing the judgment of the New Jersey Supreme Court, and affirming that the Boy Scouts of America are a private organization which may decide its own standards for membership, regardless of public laws which prohibit discrimination against certain people. The decision was split 5 to 4, with those four justices vigorously objecting to the majority in a dissenting opinion twice as long as the majority one. The BSA continues to declare that some boys and men, and that some Scouts and Scout leaders “ those who happen to be gay or those who are not gay but who voice support for ending discrimination in the Boy Scouts “ are not worthy to be Scouts." We strongly disagree. The Supreme Court has allowed the BSA to discriminate, but it did not say it had to do so!

What Is The Issue?

Scouting For All agrees that discussion of one's sexual orientation and sex education do not belong in Scouting. Scouting For All vigorously supports the already existing standards of conduct for Scout leaders. This issue is not about outsiders trying to join or destroy Scouting. Over 87 million young men have been welcomed into Scouting's ranks over the years. Don't you suppose that many of these 87 million men and boys have been gay? Gay men and boys have
always been Scouts and Scout leaders, and many are still in Scouting. This issue is about human rights and discrimination against some people, not because of anything they have done, but simply because of who they are. This issue was created by the BSA when they took action against certain men and boys and expelled them from Scouting because they happen to be gay. This was wrong:
Scouting is for all!!!

Many accomplished and dedicated Scouts and Scout leaders are gay, but now they fear that disclosure of their identity will result in their expulsion from Scouting. Tens of thousands of adult Eagle Scouts all over the United States are gay, and feel angry and dishonored by the current "policy" of the BSA. This "policy" is divisive to Scouting. Scouts should not reject other Scouts (or anyone else) just because that person happens to be "different." Let's remind the BSA that bigotry is not a Scout value. Scouting is for all!!!

What Does Scouting Say About This Issue?

In a letter sent to James Dale, the BSA said that they had expelled him because he did not adhere to "the standards of leadership established by the [BSA], which specifically forbid membership to homosexuals." But where is this anti-gay "policy"? It is found nowhere in official BSA publications. Even the Supreme Court justices remarked that "It remained, in effect, a secret Boy Scout policy" and this policy ". . . appears to be no more than a private statement of a few BSA executives . . ." In fact, the BSA states officially that "[n]either the charter nor the laws of the [BSA] permits the exclusion of any boy... " . . . our membership shall be representative of all the population in every community, district, and council."

Although the BSA has clearly stated that sexual matters are "not construed to be Scouting's proper area," they have also stated that they "teach young boys who are Scouts that hmosexuality is immoral." Even though some people in Scouting believe this, especially some religious groups that charter troops, many other religious groups do not adhere to this belief and, in fact, believe to the contrary “ that discrimination against homosexuals is wrong." The BSA bylaws state that the BSA is "absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward religious training" and in fact it " does not define what constitutes duty to God or the practice of religion." Yet,despite the BSA's denials that it addresses sexual matters or that it espouses a articular religious doctrine, the BSA has condemned homosexual identity, the specific moral doctrine of only some of its religious supporters! We are afraid that the Boy Scouts of America is being taken over by the relgious fundamentalists who use the Scout Law and Scout Oath as weapons of hatedred,
discrimination, and bigotry to hurt people who are gay in the same way they use the bible, Jesus Christ and God to hurt gay youth and adults. This type if behavior is what is immoral.

The BSA bases its exclusion of gays on the Scouts Laws that a Scout is clean, and morally straight. But the Boy Scout Handbook itself says the following about cleanliness:

"Swear words, profanity, and dirty stories are weapons that ridicule other people and hurt their feelings. The same is true of racial slurs and jokes making fun of ethnic groups or people with physical or mental limitations. A Scouts knows there is no kindness or honor in such mean-spirited behavior. He avoids it in his own words and deeds. He defends those who are targets of insults." (emphasis added).

About "morally straight," the Handbook also says, "To be a person of strong character, guide your life with honesty, purity, and justice. Respect and defend the rights of all people." (emphasis added). Clearly, it seems to us that a gay person who is being "honest" about who he is and who strives for justice is "morally straight," and that the non-gay who defends his rights is also "morally straight." Regarding this Law, the Scoutmaster Handbook says, "A boy's courage to do what his head and his heart tell him is right," is moral fitness.

Another interesting statement by the BSA is the following found in the Cub Scout Leader How-To Book:

"Prejudice can be thought of as a social disease. People catch it from other people. No one group is immune from prejudging others. However, we can recognize and build up resistance to prejudices in ourselves and help children do the same . . . Self confident children learn not to take negative cultural myths about other people seriously. They make up their minds about people as individuals, not as members of a category." (Excerpted)

Finally, the BSA argued that James Dale's mere presence in the Boy Scouts would convey a message about his homosexuality, even if he never mentioned it (which he did not). Yet the BSA officially does not concern itself about the views or activities of its leaders outside of Scouting! The BSA does not censure its adult leaders because they express beliefs outside of Scouting, such as pro- or anti-abortion, environmental activism, Democratic or Republican membership, etc, etc. Nor does the BSA concern itself with behavior outside of Scouting, such as smoking, drinking, marital issues, etc. Why is James Dale any different?

The inconsistencies and ironies mentioned above clearly demonstrates the hypocrisy inherent in the current BSA stance on gays. Evidently, the BSA is acting contrary to its own stated and cherished principles.

Who Is Scouting For All?

The motto of Scouting For All is, "Committed to Scouting, Open to Diversity." Scouting For All is composed of Scouts and former Scouts who are dedicated to the Scouting movement and wish to see it return to its fundamental values: fairness, compassion and respect for others. We love Scouting. We would like all boys in Scouting who are gay to remain Scouts if Scouting can respect who they are. We want all adult leaders who are gay to remain in Scouting if they are respected for who they are. We want all kids, gay or not, to be able to become Scouts. We want all interested and competent adults, whether gay or not, to be permitted leadership roles within Scouting according to their talents and merit. We want parents and their children to participate in Scouting, as long as Scouting does not advocate bigotry towards others. We want to end bigotry in Scouting, because Scouting is for all!!

What Can You Do?

Now is the time to stand up and be counted. Every good Scout must stand up for fairness, and against bigotry. Scouts everywhere must speak out, telling the National Council of the BSA that they and their troops and Councils will not discriminate!

What can you do? We recommend the following:

1. Work to have your scout unit to adopt a statement that declares that your troop welcomes all Scouts, and does not discriminate against kids or adults who are gay (a sample statement may be obtained from the Scouting For All website in the links menu in the section Scouts Take A Stand).

2. When your troop adopts that statement, tell us about it at Scouting For All. We will honor your troop by entering it onto the "Rainbow Role," designating it a troop that stands against discrimination and bigotry in Scouting. Send your scout units antidiscrimination statement to
the local scout council, national BSA and to your sponsoring organization.

3. Write a letter or speak to the Scout executives at your local BSA Scout Council and tell them that you want them to support troops and individuals who do not discriminate against gay men or boys. Ask them to issue a non-discrimination statement for the entire Council similar to the one your troop is adopting. If they do, let us know at Scouting For All. We will honor your Council by entering it onto the "Rainbow Role," designating it a Council which stands against discrimination and bigotry in Scouting.

4. Write a letter to Chief Scout Executive of the BSA and say that you do not want discrimination in Scouting and ask that the anti-gay "policy" of the BSA be rescinded. Send us at Scouting For All a copy of your letter.

5. Write a letter to President Clinton and ask him to speak out against the discrimination of gays and atheists in Scouting in his capacity as the honorary president of the BSA, or to resign that position. Send us at Scouting For All a copy of your letter.

6. Join Scouting For All by visiting our website at <>, keep up-to-date on the latest developments, and join us in our events and protests.

What If My Troop Continues To Discriminate?

7. If you are unable to persuade your troop to stand up against discrimination, then we must advise you to search for a troop in your area that has an anti-discrimination statement (many scout units are developing anti-discrimination statements throughout the country) if you are unable to locate one then we highly recommend that you resign as a member of the Boy
Scouts of America "outed" as a bigoted orgnaization. Remaining a member of a Scout troop which permits open bigotry is contrary to the Spirit of Scouting. Colluding with that bigotry implies agreement with it by association. We hope it doesn't come to that. But if you do resign, please tell us at Scouting For All. We want to support you in your grief and anger at the BSA. We want to help you understand that, although the BSA has failed you, ironically you are a good Scout for following the highest principles of Scouting.

8. If you are an Eagle Scout and wish to relinquish your Eagle badge in protest, send it to us at Scouting For All. We will hold it in trust for you, pending the day when you can retrieve it from us because Scouting has ceased to discriminate.

Lets Win Back The Boy Scouts!

Certain powerful and influential professional Scouters, and certain chartering organizations which donate large sums to Scouting, have hijacked the BSA by trying to impose their own bigoted values upon the whole Scouting movement in the United States. Scouting does not belong just to professional Scouters, or to certain bigoted chartering institutions. Scouting belongs to every Scout, past and present. Scouting is for all!!!

The Boy Scout Handbook declares that an "obedient" Scout is one who obeys the law and the rules of his community, but, "If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner." This is precisely why Scouting For All is calling for the steps enumerated above. All Scouts learn to "Be Prepared." Let's prepare ourselves to struggle against bigotry in Scouting and, in so doing, redeem the tarnished honor of the Boy Scouts of America!

Yours in Scouting: The Board of Scouting For All (




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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