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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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Frequently Asked Questions

Gays in Scouting

Atheists in Scouting

Girls in Scouting

Scout Unit, Scouts and or Adult Leaders: Gay, Atheists, and Girls in Scouting

Scouting For All

Gays in Scouting

  • What is the Boy Scouts of America policy on gays? - It's hard to determine exactly what the policy is, since it is not stated in the BSA Bylaws, Rules and Regulations, or Procedures for Maintaining Standards of Membership, nor in any leader manual or handbooks that boys and parents use, nor in any training course syllabus, nor on any application. The earliest written record was in an internal memo dated 1978; it first reached public attention when Tim Curran sued the BSA in 1980; and it was discussed in Scouting magazine twice only in 1992. It appears in various briefing and position papers for BSA internal use only. The closest thing to a National Council or Executive Board policy statement was a request for those who supported the lawsuits to stand.

    In defending their stance, National Council spokesmen usually quote from the Scout Oath:

    "to keep myself morally straight"

    and the Scout Law:

    "A Scout is Clean."

    They state their support of "traditional family values" and leaders as "moral role models." The National Council Boy Scouts of America gives out the message to the public, scouters and adult leaders that people who are gay do not have family values and don't live moral lives. The BSA places all gay people into one category, negating the diversity and uniqueness of people who are gay. They claim through their logic that there is such a thing as a gay way of believing. There are conservative, liberal and moderate people who are gay. They come from all walks of life and represent every segment of society. Would they also use that same logic when describing heterosexual people? They espouse the belief that gays have inferior values then their own. The National Council Boy Scouts of America has not defined what they mean when they use the term "family values."

    The BSA practice is to deny registration to any "known or avowed" homosexual. In fact they have dismissed gays, children of gay or lesbian parents, bisexuals, celibate homosexuals, and suspected homosexuals. While the stance is apparently "don't ask, don't tell," they do act on anonymous tips and "common community knowledge" and have carried on intrusive investigations

  • What should I do if one of my Scouts tells me he is gay? - Assure him you value and will keep his confidence, and that you will keep him in your Scout unit and its program and will not report him. Give him a message of acceptance and let him know the BSA's policy of discrimination is harmful and does not reflect his being gay, but the BSA's ignorance and homophobia. Ask him how is it that he has confided in you that he is gay. Allow the conversation to follow where the youth is at emotionally to help elicit his concerns. Other youth may have been giving him a bad time, or he may be worried about some sexual incident. It could even be a case of sexual abuse; if so follow the BSA's youth protection guidelines. It is very common for a youth to begin to question his/her sexual orientation at this stage of his/her psychosexual development. Because of this remember not to overreact remain calm and answer any questions that you yourself feel comfortable answering. Ask him whether he has confided in his parents. Tell him it's usually a good idea to do so, If he insists it is impossible, honor that statement. It is important to be very sensitive to this issue because many of our homeless youth are gay youth who have been kicked out of their homes when they came out to their parent(s). We would hope most parents would be supportive, but this is not always the case. Urge him to seek supportive counseling from someone who is gay sensitive and friendly. Could refer him/her to a gay youth organization in your community or to a national one such as GLSEN. Tell no one else. It is shameful that we must be so secretive to protect gay youth and adults in scouting; but we must under the current BSA leadership and conditions of discrimination.
  • I'm a Scout and I'm gay. What can I do?

    Stay in Scouting!

    Have you told your parents? Have you consulted with your church? Is there a Scout leader you can trust? Have you reached out to other gay youth or friendly straight youth and or to a gay youth organization? Realize that if you are found out by the BSA you will probably be denied registration. It's a "don't ask, don't tell" situation; certainly not the way it should be, but the fact at present. Seek support from a gay friendly counselor / gay youth organization and or someone you trust such as a gay or straight peer or adult. It is very important for you to gain support for the beautiful person you have discovered you are. There are gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual youth organizations in your area or if not at least nationally such as GLSEN or PFLAG. There may even be a gay youth group in your school.

Atheists in Scouting

  • What is the Boy Scouts of America policy on atheists? - In 1911 the BSA added "A Scout is Reverent" to the Scout Law, and in the 1920s adopted the "Declaration of Religious Principal" which is included in the Bylaws and states:

    The BSA maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. [In the first part of the Scout Oath or Promise the member declares, "On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law."] The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members. No matter what the religious faith of the members may be, this fundamental need of good citizenship should be kept before them. The BSA, therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. The BSA's policy is that the home and the organization or group with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life." (The bracketed portion appears in the Bylaws but not on the adult application).

    "Only persons willing to subscribe to this Declaration of Religious Principle and to the Bylaws of the BSA shall be entitled to certificates of leadership."

    In effect, once the leader has signed the application, no further inquiry is made or requirement enforced. Though the DRP seems to apply to adults only, it was used to deny registration to boys who are agnostic. Although the reference to a God seems to exclude Buddhists, and the use of the singular God to exclude Hindus, both of these groups are included in Scouting. Its theological definition of God seems at odds with some religious beliefs.

    Recently the BSA has assumed control of the religious awards, formerly administered by the denominations themselves, and has actually told one denomination, the Unitarian Universalist Church it could not present its award because its manual included material that the BSA disagreed with on homosexuality and atheism, thereby denying the right of that denomination to teach its beliefs to its boys in Scouting.

    It also must be noted Lord Baden Powell, the founder of the World Scouting movement in 1907 never excluded atheists from scouting. In his writings he made it very clear that he believed through the scouting experience a young boy or girl would hopefully find their own spirituality and possibly a belief in "God." He never said to exclude children from scouting if they did not believe in "God"

  • What should I do if one of my Scouts tells me he/she is an atheist? - As an adult leader remain very supportive. The young person must have given his/her position some thought to share it with you. Assist the young person to become a critical thinker by asking supportive questions as to how he/she had come to his/her current religious belief. If you have knowledge on the subject refer the youth to further readings. Remember the youth may also be testing you to see what your spiritual belief is in forming his/her own spiritual belief.

  • Commonly Asked Questions About Non-theists

Girls in Scouting

  • What is the Boy Scouts of America policy on girls joining? - Since its founding in 1910 the Boy Scouts of America has been for boys only, in Scout troops and Cub Scout packs. In the 1970s Explorer posts were permitted to have girl members. Since 1998 Venture Scout crews which are not part of a troop may have girl members.

    There are approximately 150 countries in the world that have scouting programs. Of those 150 countries, two-thirds include girls in scouting. The United States is one of only 49 countries that continue to disallow girls in the Boy Scouts. In fact the Boy Scout World Headquarters located in Geneva, in 1973 changed it's name to Scouting World Headquarters to recognize girls in scouting.

    Originally only men could hold any leadership position in scouting. By the 1940s women could become Den Mothers only. By the 1970s women could hold all positions except Cubmaster, Webelos den leader, Scoutmaster, and their assistants. In the 1980s all adult positions were opened to women This finally occurred after numerous lawsuits were filed by women against the Boy Scouts of America for their sexist discriminatory policy.

Scout Unit, Scouts and or Adult Leaders: Gay, Atheists, and Girls in Scouting

  • The BSA has kicked me out. What can I do? - Get a copy of "Procedures for Maintaining Standards of Membership" which outlines the appeals process. Scouting for All can get you a copy; the BSA won't give them out. Certainly you should follow through on the appeal.

  • Our Scout unit doesn't agree with the BSA policy. What can we do? - Adopt your own statement on inclusiveness, and get the understanding and support of your Scout's parents and your chartered organization. Let the Scouts know you will not discriminate. Whether you tell your local council is up to you. They might give you a bad time, but Scout units have had such policies in effect since 1991 without losing their charters. Give a copy of your antidiscrimination statement to the city council and school board, informing them that as a Pack or Troop you would not discriminate against anyone. Ask that you not be held liable for the National Boy Scouts of America's practice of discrimination.

  • Our organization doesn't believe in discriminating against gays. Can we still have a Scout unit? - Certainly, and you should! The more organizations that operate inclusive Scout units with good Scout programs, the sooner change in the BSA will occur. At this point in time it remains a don't ask don't tell policy to protect gay youth and adults in scouting. This gives our gay youth and straight a terrible message, but it remains the best we can do under the current National Boy Scouts of America's practices of discrimination.

  • Should we as the charted organization drop our Scout unit? - Certainly not! Apply your organization's standards to the operation of your Scout units. Scouting is still a great movement and a great program. The more Scout units that will not discriminate, the stronger and better the program will become.

  • Will the BSA kick me out (or "decharter" my unit) if I don't report a gay Scout or leader? - So far no unit that we know of has been "dechartered" for its inclusive policy. We are aware of several scout units who have internal written policies that they will not discriminate against gay youth and adults. So far no leader that we know of has been denied registration for failure to report a gay. We are also aware that the United Church of Christ in Petaluma was denied sponsoring a Troop because of its inclusiveness of homosexuals and the BSA would not allow any Troop with Scott Cozza, Adult BSA Leader in the Troop. Scott Cozza had been unofficially banned from participating in any Troop because of his association with Scouting For All.

    Some who have been outspoken such as Dave Rice and Scott Cozza, both adult leaders have been banned from scouting. Dave was kicked out after 59 years in scouting and Scott was "banned" from associating with any troop after taking his stand with his son Steven against the Boy Scouts of America's shameful practice of discrimination against gay youth and adults. We encourage others within scouting to also take a stand even if it may mean getting "banned" or kicked out. Being a good scout and adult leader means to stand against social injustice even if that social injustice is being perpetrated by your own organization i.e. the BSA.

  • Our city (school district, etc.) has a nondiscrimination policy which includes sexual orientation. What can we do about Scout units that use our facilities and or recruit in our schools? - Ask the Scout units themselves where they stand on discrimination; urge them to adopt a statement on inclusiveness. Accept the Scout unit's declaration at face value. Do not assume they believe or follow the BSA practice. If the individual Scout unit does discriminate, or if the Scout unit will not adopt a nondiscriminatory policy, or if the facility will be used by the local Scout Council's which does discriminate, then you are justified in denying use of the facilities.

    Scouting For All asks that you not deny a Scout unit or Scout Council solely because of the National BSA practice of discrimination. We ask you accept individual Scout units and your local Scout council own adopted written policy of nondiscrimination (refer to the Scouting For All Policy and Procedures on Gays in Scouting on our web page in the About Us menu).

  • I don't agree with the BSA policy. Should I drop out or keep my child out of Scouting? December 1997
    Certainly not! Dropping out denies your child of the great Scouting program and in effect turns Scouting over to those who would discriminate. Stay, make sure your unit doesn't discriminate, and work for change in the BSA. Steven Cozza and his father Scott and Dave Rice are good examples of trying to stay in Scouting while advocating for change. They all felt like quitting scouting when they learned of the BSA's policy against gays, girls and atheists. They elected to stay in scouting and to advocate for change within. They all followed the Scout Oath and Law as they advocated for change. Steven has since attained the rank of Eagle Scout. Dave Rice after 59 years was kicked out of Scouting in 1998 and Scott Cozza was "banned" in 1999 from associating with any scout troops. Neither Dave or Scott violated any BSA rules. Their crime was that they believed gay youth and adults should not be discriminated against by the BSA.

    Update September 2005
    It has now been several years since the then 12 year old Steven Cozza, now an Eagle Scout took a stand against the bigotry of the Boy Scouts of America. Since then we have found that those who speak out against the policy are often kicked out of scouting. This includes individual leaders, scouts, chartering organizations and scout units. The current leadership of the BSA is not open for any dialog on the issue of excluding gay and atheist youth and adults from the scouting program. So Scouting for All now would recommend that if you are a parent looking for a youth outdoor program, that you not sign your child up to be a member of the BSA, but instead sign your child up for Campfire USA. Although Scouting for All also says this is a decision that should be made according to the value system of your family. Ultimately the decision is left for the parent or gaurdian to make. What we advised in December of 1997 may still hold true for some today, but if I had to do it over again and with what I know now about the BSA, I would not have signed up Steven, nor myself as an adult leader. I would have signed up for Campfire USA. I wouldn't want my child to participate in a youth organization that was bigoted and discriminatory against any segment of our society, in this case the LGBT and atheist communities.- Scott Cozza, Pres. Scouting for All

  • Would you force me or my Scout unit to accept gay members or leaders? - Scouting for All believes that the unit committee should choose its leaders using the standards that it feels important, with the approval of its chartered organization. No one should force a unit to dismiss a person who is gay.

    The denial of an adult leader should not be based on gender, race, sexual orientation or religious belief, including atheism. We are asking the BSA to adopt a policy of nondiscrimination for all Scout units to follow. The only exception that Scouting For All would foresee would be a particular religious denomination who interpret their religious doctrine to view being gay as a sin against God's word. Scouting For All can only hope that change of inclusion and acceptance by those religious denominations comes from within their own religious congregations. We can see this beginning to happen within the Mormon religion already with their group called Affirmation gays and Lesbians (refer to the Scouting For All Policy and Procedures on Gays in Scouting on our web page in the About Us menu).

  • Don't all religions agree that homosexuality is morally wrong? - Certainly not. Religious denominations in the United States and throughout the world are changing their stances on homosexuality.

    In some it is already official denominational policy to accept homosexuals, such as United Church of Christ, Unity Fellowship, Unitarian Universalist Association and others.

    In other denominations there are strong networks of local congregations and individuals who accept gays and work for change, such as More Light Presbyterian churches, Open and Affirming United Churches of Christ, Reconciling United Methodist churches, Welcoming and Affirming Baptist churches, Reconciled in Christ Lutheran churches, Supportive Congregations (Brethren/Mennonite), and others.

    In still other denominations there are unofficial organizations which are accepting of gays and working for change, such as Affirmation (Mormon), American Baptists Concerned, Axios (Orthodox), Dignity (Roman Catholic), Honesty (Southern Baptist), Integrity (Episcopal), Lutherans Concerned, World Congress of Gay Lesbian Bisexual Jewish Organizations, Al Fatiyah (Muslim), and Buddhist Association of the Gay & Lesbian Community, and others.

    It is Scouting for All's position that all religions, denominations, churches, and local congregations in our widely diverse nation should be able to operate their own Scouting programs in accordance with their own beliefs, without BSA interference or favoring of one side when there is disagreement, including on questions of homosexuality. No church should be denied the Scouting program because of its beliefs nor should any church be forced to violate its beliefs in order to adopt the Scouting program.

    And no person should be denied membership or kicked out because of one's sexual orientation. If a church has homophobic doctrine then that church should not be forced to accept a person who may be gay and that gay person
    should not be denied membership in scouting. This is a very sad time but some churches do discriminate in the name of God or Jesus Christ. In that case a gay person would need to seek out a scout unit that did not discriminate based on religious doctrine.

    So change is slowly taking place for the inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals in religious denominations which had been rejecting of them as part of the beauty of the human family. As Steven Cozza, Eagle Scout said in one of his speeches, "God made all of us. Why would God discriminate against someone God made? God loves us all, gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender, and straight."

  • What address should I use to write to the BSA? - We recommend you check out the www.scoutingforall.web page in the What You Can Do menu in the 3 Things You Can do section for a list of National BSA Administrators you can write to:

    This is the general mailing address of the BSA:

    Boy Scouts of America
    1325 W. Walnut Hill Ln.
    PO Box 152079
    Irving, TX 75015-2079

    For your local council address and phone, check your phone book under Boy Scouts of America or you can check the links section of this web page and click the BSA link. They have a list of all councils in America. You can also get in touch with Scouting Associations throughout the world by clicking the World Scouting link in our Links menu

Scouting For All

  • What can I do to help Scouting for All? - There are many things you can do to help. Please visit the What You Can Do menu of the web page. You can also help us in our efforts by becoming a member and or volunteer of Scouting For All. You can become a member and or volunteer on line right off the web page.

    Here are a few other things you can do:

    • You can sign Steven's Petition and help gather signatures. Inform the public of the BSA's practice of discrimination and enlist support to help get the BSA to rescind its discrimination.
    • Organize local groups and peaceful demonstrations at scouting events or at your local council. Invite the news media to cover the demonstration as Scouting For All did when we held a peaceful demonstration at the 1999 San Francisco Bay Area Council Eagle Scout Reunion.
    • As a Scout or Adult Scout Leader, make a personal decision not to discriminate against persons who are gay and atheists.
    • Help your Scout Unit and its chartered institution write a an antidiscrimination statement. Send this statement to your local city council, school board. Scouting For All also encourages you to send this statement to your local council and the BSA but we leave this up to your own discretion. We have not been aware of the BSA taking action against any Troops or Packs who have written such antidiscriminatory statements.
    • Encourage others to support Scouting For All. We are a 501C-3 nonprofit charitable organization. Donations are encouraged.
    • Urge you church or other organization to take a stand and notify the BSA.
    • Email your personal statement to the Testimonial section of the web page on how the BSA's policy of discrimination has hurt you in some way. Sometimes in sharing our hurt we came begin the healing process for ourselves and help others realize they are not alone in their hurt.
  • What has Scouting For All accomplished?
    • Scouting For All has incorporated under California and Federal law and has been granted nonprofit status from the IRS. We have a board meeting once a month and have adopted statements of purpose and policies.
    • Through the inspiration of Steven Cozza, Eagle Scout, Scouting For All has established members and or volunteers throughout every state in the United States and in 20 countries internationally.
    • Scouting For All has its own web page managed by the National Gay Lobby. This web page provides direct communication with scouters and youth outside of scouting both gay and straight to provide support and encouragement.
    • Steven Cozza, Eagle Scout has spoken on local and national news media advocating for gay rights and the rights of all youth to be able to be members of the scouting program. His message is empowering and healing, bringing together both gay and straight youth.
    • Scouting For All through the assistance and leadership of Dave Rice, Board Member, has advised numerous people denied registration by the BSA on what they can do, including advising them of their rights of review, supplying them with copies of the BSA publication "Procedures for Maintaining Standards of Membership", advising them on dealing with the BSA bureaucracy, and referring them to legal defense organizations.
    • Scouting For All through the efforts of our volunteer force has developed a brochure targeting gay and straight youth with a reaffirming message.
    • Scouting For All through its web page on line email communication answers several hundred emails each month on issues regarding scouting (Oath and Law), gays, girls, and atheists in scouting. We believe one advocates against bigotry and hatred through education.
    • Scouting For All through its volunteer force is represented at community events throughout the year including Gay Pride events.
    • Scouting For All works with city councils, human rights commissions, school boards, and other local governments on how they can implement policies on inclusiveness, including policies against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. This includes whether to permit Scout activities in public facilities, whether to permit Scout recruiting in the classroom, and how to deal with local Scout councils who are bound by the BSA policies of discrimination. Generally, this means advising the local government to stand firmly by its policies, but to also accept at face value statements from Scout units who oppose the BSA policy and will not discriminate within their own membership.
    • Scouting For All advises religious denominations, congregations, and individual members who are opposed to the BSA's ban on gays on what they can do. Scouting For All has helped them draft resolutions decrying the BSA's policies, including the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Episcopal Diocese of California, the United Methodist Church's General board on Church and Society, and individual local congregations.
    • Scouting For All and Steven Cozza, Eagle Scout and Cofounder has been honored with numerous awards for our efforts in standing for gay rights and against the social injustice of the Boy Scouts of America.
  • Should I wear my uniform when I protest against the BSA's practice of discrimination? - Scouting For All recommends that if you are in scouting that you abide by the Scouting rules. Uniforms may only be worn at Scouting events. A Scouting For All activity or event is not considered a BSA sanctioned event or activity so one should not wear their uniform while protesting the BSA's practice of discrimination.

    A Comment from Scott Cozza on the issue of "to wear or not to wear, that is the question"?

    "While Scouting For All as an organization has recommended that scouts/adult leaders should follow BSA rules and only wear uniforms for scouting events, I feel uniforms should be worn whenever possible to demonstrate that what we are doing is what is taught by the BSA and to encourage others in scouting to do the same. One wearing their uniform is a small infraction of BSA policy compared to their violation of Human Rights with their standing policy of discrimination."

    "We need to let the country know that our advocacy for gay rights / human rights and for the rights of atheists and other free thinkers and for gender equity is really a more accurate representation of what the Boy Scouts of America stands for then what they pretend to stand for now in protecting their own self interests through their bigotry. Again this decision should be left up to the individual scout/adult leader. No one should feel pressure to wear their uniform if they choose not to."

If one is no longer a member of the BSA, Scouting For All leaves it up to the individual's own discretion whether to wear the uniform or not at a Scouting For All event or activity.

  • Youth Organizations and Pedophiles - Youth organizations should always be on the alert for pedophiles. They prey on children. All youth organizations should have a youth protection policy and training for both adult participants and youth members. This Youth Protection program should distinguish between pedophilia and sexual orientations. Pedophiles are adults 16 years and older whose sexual orientation is children. They are unlike homosexuals who sexual orientation are the same gender. They are unlike heterosexuals whose sexual orientation is the opposite gender and unlike bisexuals whose sexual orientation is both the opposite and same gender. It also must be noted that 90%-95% of pedophiles conceal their pedophilia while living a life style as a heterosexual. People who are homosexual are no more going to seek out children than heterosexuals or bisexuals. These sexual orientations just don't have sex with children. Remember, it is a pedophile which is attracted sexually to children. We can best protect our children by getting this information correct.

The American Psychiatric Association defines Pedophilia:

A pedophile is a person who over at least a 6 month period has recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children (generally age 13 years or younger). The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. The person is at least age 16 years and at least 5 years older than the child or children. Not to include an individual in late adolescence involved in an ongoing sexual relationship with a 12 or 13 year old (straight or gay). Individuals with pedophilia generally report an attraction to children of a particular age range. Some individuals prefer males, others prefer females, and some are aroused by both males and females. Those who prefer females usually prefer 8-10 year olds, whereas those attracted to males usually prefer slightly older children. Pedophila involving female victims is reported more than pedophilia involving male victims. Some pedophiles are attracted to both children and adults. * reference; Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, American Psychiatric Association, 1994.

For further information on sexual orientation and homosexuality Scouting For All recommends that you go to the and web sites. They are both very informative.

The Facts About Pedophilia and Homosexuality

  • I have two boys who want to join scouting. Should I be afraid that a heterosexual scoutmaster might try and molest them? Please advise. - Your question is a very good one. I can tell, you have educated yourself about children being sexually molested. It should be a concern for any parent or custodian of a child because 90% - 95% of children who are sexually molested are by a person hiding their pedophilia by living a heterosexual lifestyle. As you know heterosexuals, bisexuals, and homosexuals don't molest children. Pedophiles whose sexual orientation is children molest children. So, the best way to protect your child is to make sure whichever youth organization she or he may join that they should have a solid youth protection program. This program should present the facts about child abuse and help dispel the myths.
  • Why Doesn't Scouting For All form their own outdoor youth group? - There are other outdoor youth programs that don't discriminate such as the Camp Fire Boys and Girls Club, 4H and Girl Scouts. In fact the Boy Scouts of America is the only youth organization in America that is not a religious organization that discriminates against gay youth and adults, atheists for their belief, and girls because of their gender. Keep in mind that 2/3s of Scouting globally include girls in their scouting programs. The Boy Scouts of America is one of 49 countries out of 152 who excludes girls from scouting.

    Also, if we walked away from the BSA's discriminatory policies by starting our own organization we would be turning our backs on the issue of the social injustice by the BSA toward gays, atheists and girls. We would be doing nothing to help end the BSA's practice of discrimination.

Revision of FAQs
by Scott Cozza and Dave Rice
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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