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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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Some Scouts Protest by Turning In Their Award Badges- Eagle


*Scouting For All has taken the position not to send back your Scouting Badges. We believe that the BSA officials don't deserve them because they promote a policy of discrimination and likely would not even care if they received them. Scouting For All does understand for some turning in one's Eagle Award or other award may be the ultimate and most compassionate act to make against the Boy Scouts of America's immoral practice of discrimination. Scouting For All respects and will honor that decision. Please read Kevin Peter, Eagle Scout suggestion below. Scott Cozza, President Scouting For All

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. PO BOX 2832, Petaluma, CA. 94953-2832

If you have already sent in your Eagle Badge or other scout honor to your local scout council or to the BSA National headquarters in Irving Texas let Scouting For All know at info@scoutingforall.org. If you grant us permission we will also include your name, troop, rank and scout council along with others who have turned in their Eagle Awards and other scout honors to us.


A dramatic protest by some Eagle Scouts Dismayed that the Boy Scouts bar gays as leaders, some members return their prized Eagle badges.

Philadelphia Inquirer, July 18, 2000
PO Box 8263, Philadelphia, PA, 19101
(Fax 215-854-4483 ) (E-MAIL: Inquirer.opinion@phillynews.com )
( http://www.philly.com )

By Gwen Florio, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

Kevin Peter is an Eagle Scout. His older brother is an Eagle Scout. And Peter had hoped the time would come when his son, Ben, now just 2, would join scouting's elite.

"But no more," Peter, 36, of Mount Airy, wrote in a letter. Two weeks ago he took the letter, packaged it with his Eagle badge, and shipped it back to the Boy Scouts of America's headquarters in Texas -- in protest.

This month, some Eagle Scouts around the country, both gay and straight, have returned their badges to the Boy Scouts as testament to their unhappiness with the Scouts' policy of barring homosexuals from serving as leaders. That policy was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 28.

It is not clear how many Scouts have taken this step. One group monitoring the action says several hundred Eagle Scouts have done so. It is a dramatic statement: the Eagle rank is the highest achievement in the Boy Scouts, held by the likes of former President Gerald Ford, film director Steven Spielberg, and former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley.

But Peter no longer wishes to be part of that group. Nor would he want his son to join.

"The reality is that there are a lot of gay men in this country," said Peter, who is straight. "If you're coming up as a leader and you're thinking that gay men don't have a place in society, then you're not going to serve your country well."

About 4 percent of the million Scouts active in this country are Eagle Scouts. Achieving that rank, said Peter and others, was one of the most meaningful events of their lives.

"I remember vividly standing on the stage of a public park arena and having my mother pin the badge on my chest," said the Rev. Gene Huff, of the moment in 1943 in Chickasha, Okla., when he became an Eagle Scout. The leadership qualities he learned in scouting helped him to become a Presbyterian minister, Huff said by phone yesterday.

Those qualities, he wrote in the letter sent with his returned badge, did not include prejudice.

"I was not taught by scoutmasters of former years, even in Oklahoma in the '40s, that morality and intolerance could be joined," wrote Huff, 72, of San Francisco.

The Boy Scouts insisted -- and the high court agreed -- that as a private organization, it can set its own standards for membership and leadership.

"We believe an avowed homosexual is not a role model for the values espoused in the Scout Oath and Law," the organization said after the court ruling.

Since then, the group's headquarters in Irving, Texas, has received "quite a few" Eagle badges from Scouts unhappy with the decision, said Gregg Shields, national spokesman for the Scouts.

Shields said there was no way of knowing just how many badges have been returned. There are hundreds of local Scouting groups around the country, some of which also have received returned badges, he said. Huff, for instance, sent his to a local chapter.

Scouting for All, a group in Petaluma, Calif., formed to persuade the Scouts to adopt antidiscrimination policies for gay Scouts and leaders, said it had received "several hundred -- up to a thousand" e-mails from Eagle Scouts who say they had have returned badges.

Scott Cozza, the group's leader, said Scouting for All discourages the action. "We believe the Boy Scouts of America don't deserve the Eagle badges," he said. "They're not practicing what a good Scout should be."

The group is organizing a national day of protest at Boy Scout offices on Aug. 21.

"But for some people," Cozza said, returning their badges "is the ultimate form of protest, and we have to totally respect that." Scouting for All's Web site -- www.scoutingforall.org -- suggests that Eagle Scouts who want to turn in their badges send them to the national headquarters in Texas.

The Family Research Council in Washington, a conservative group that supports the Scouts' right to bar gay leaders, decried the move to return the badges.

"I think it's sad that they would do that," said Rob Regier, a policy analyst for the council. "They've bought into the false notion that this is a new civil rights movement."

Kevin Peter sees it that way, though.

He said the Scouts' present policy "creates a hostile environment for gay men. It creates a misperception among Scouts anywhere that . . . gay men are not people to have around."

Peter said Ben's godfather is gay -- and an Eagle Scout. "I would not have agreed to have this gentleman as my son's godfather if he were not a good role model," he said.

He brought Ben with him to the post office the day he mailed back the badge. "I didn't think anything of it until I pushed the package across the counter," he said. "Then it hit me."

He had always, he said, kept the badge close to him, in a box in his desk. "It was a personal touchstone for me," he said.

And now it is gone.

Gwen Florio's e-mail address is gflorio@phillynews.com



The Ultimate Statement: Renounce the Rank

For some Eagle Scouts, the most appropriate response to the Boy Scouts of America's continued policy of bias is to renounce their rank. Eagles who take this action should send their Eagle medal, along with the certificate, to:

Roy L. Williams, Chief Scout Executive
Boy Scouts of America
1325 West Walnut Lane
Irving, TX 75015-2079

Renouncing the Eagle rank is a serious decision. For most of us, receiving the Eagle award was the first major accomplishment of our lives. For some, it may still represent the most significant accomplishment of their lives. That is exactly why this action can be so powerful in the effort to encourage the Boy Scouts of America to end its policy of bias.

For Eagles who consider this action, some things to consider:

1. Most likely, you will never see your Eagle medal again. Be sure you are prepared to take that step.

2. Write your letter to the Chief Scout Executive in a professional, courteous voice. You are not trying to make him mad -- you are trying to get him to change his mind.

3. If you no longer have your certificate (or your Eagle medal), include in your letter the date (best you can remember), Troop number, and town in which you received your Eagle award. It is important for the Boy Scouts of America to know they are receiving letters and medals from genuine Eagles.

4. Consider sending a copy of your letter to your local newspapers, as a letter to the editor. Many larger newspapers will not print "third party" or "open" letters, so you will need to reformat your letter somewhat (merely switching the address and salutation from the Chief Scout Executive to "Editor"). The public needs to know that Eagles are standing against the Boy
Scout of America's policy of bias.

5. Send a copy of your letter, via email or any means necessary, to your family, friends, colleagues, etc., Many of them will forward it on to others. Some of those recipients will be Eagles. They need to know about your action, and they need to be encouraged to take the same action.

Kevin Peter, Eagle Scout
wissahickon@earthlink.net

I shed A tear For the Organization I was Once Proud Of

July 1, 2000

To: Roy L. Williams, Chief Scout Executive http://www.bsa.scouting.org

This letter is to inform you I have sent my boy scout sash to Mr. Grant Frey at Western Alaska Council of BSA. It is a sash which I've kept and treasured for over 40 years. Sewn on the sash are merit badges and the pins for Star Scout and God and Country. As I remember, I was the first Lutheran in the state of Maine to earn the God and Country award.

Decades ago I misplaced or lost my high school graduation ring, my yearbook and even the accumulation of years of medals I won in swimming competitions. I've often remarked that this treasured scout sash represented some of the best experiences of my youth. Summers at a boy scout camp on Sebago Lake, Maine, weekend camping trips and the weekly troop meetings which taught me leadership, crafts and outdoor skills.

Today I am experiencing tears and feel undescribable disappointent in your organization. Today the Supreme Court of the United States voted 5 to 4 to allow your organization to prohibit leadership by gays. The news also implied that your organization might be able to prohibit openly gay youth from participating and assuming leadership roles.

Your organization's news release of June 28, 2000 reaffirmed your right to maintain standards for membership and leadership as a private association. "We believe an avowed homosexual is not a role model for the values espoused in the Scout Oath and Law."

As a result of your belief and this landmark decision, I am returning my sash to protest your organization's position. It is apparent by the the court's decision a private, not for profit organization such as yours has a right to exclude leaders based on sexual orientation.

As a mental health professional, I know the repercussions your victory will ravage on our gay youth and our talented young gay leaders. I know suicide rates among gay teens, which are the highest, have a basis in our cultures ostracism which you have succeeded in perpetuating. I know harassment and hate crimes are the results of such a decision.

Your organizations victory perpetuates unimaginable casualties and denies hundreds of thousands of youth a right to safely and openly participate. These beautiful gay youth and gay leaders are our children, our grandchildren, our friends, our brothers and sisters . The harm your organization has inflicted on them strikes deeply and painfully in my heart and the hearts of those of us who love our gay friends and children. The homophobic position and fear that your organization has perpetuated upon gay leaders and youth is unconscionable.

Your organization and its leadership have spoken. It has taken an anti-gay stand, won the battle, and I hope will discover it has lost the war. Years from now, I suspect the shame of this decision will be not be forgotten. Your organization will be seen in a light no different than we now see the KKK or remember George Wallace standing atop the steps of destiny.

I pray that those of us who have loved this organization and object to your position will:

1. Withdraw support of the Boy Scouts and as a symbol turn in their sashes to their regional Councils as a symbol of this withdrawal. 2. Closely monitor your organization, object to any type of community or governmental support including funding and services. 3. And withdraw our children from the organization and/or encourage our own children to not allow our grandchildren to participate in a homophobic organization.

I am asking Mr. Frey to have the courtesy to hold my sash, and any others that will be sent, until such time that the current policy of discriminating against gay leaders and gay youth is stopped. I would also hope that leaders in your organization sympathetic to gay leaders and gay youth withdraw their volunteer support and withdraw their children.

At every opportunity, I will ask like-minded colleagues and friends to return their sashes to regional council offices until your organization stops this tragedy of rejecting qualified openly gay youth and adults as role models and leaders.

Meanwhile, I grieve for family members, friends and the millions of children who will suffer the repercussions of your organizations position.

Sincerely yours,


Leon T. Webber, III, D.Mn., LMFT
Former boy scout and boy scout supporter
Anchorage, Alaska
907.277.6888

CC: Anchorage Daily News, Michael Carey
United Way of Anchorage, Dennis McMillian
Western Alaska Council (BSA), Grant Frey

 

 

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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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