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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Troop 28 Joins Cub Scout Pack 88 Providance Rhode Island: Defy the BSA's Discrimination Aganist
Gay Youth and Adults
From the Associated Press
Second Scout troop defies national ban on gays
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) A second Rhode Island Scout troop is defying the national organization's ban on homosexuals.
Members, leaders, and parents from Boy Scout Troop 28 have sent a letter to the Narragansett Council of Boy Scouts
saying they will ignore the policy.
The troop joins Cub Scout Pack 88, which sent a similar letter two weeks ago, The Providence Journal reported.
The national policy is rooted in a 1910 oath that says Scouts must keep themselves ''morally straight.'' The ban
was upheld by the Supreme Court this summer, but about a dozen troops nationwide have said they will still ignore
The leaders of Pack 28 said the words ''morally straight'' have nothing to do with sexual orientation.
''The oath did not mean to ban homosexuals but to keep on the straight and narrow and do what is right,'' said
Allen M. Dennison, an assistant scoutmaster with Troop 28, who has four sons in Scouting. Our assessment of what
is right is that everyone be included, and that includes gay leaders and gay Scouts.''
The Narragansett Council will forward the letter from Troop 28 to the Boy Scouts of America headquarters in Irving,
Texas, as it did with the letter from Pack 88, said state council spokesman David Preston.
Pack 88 hasn't heard from the national Boy Scouts regarding its status and calls to the Boy Scouts of America were
Officially, troops that ignore Scouting rules will have their charter revoked. To date, however, the Boy Scouts
of America has not revoked the charter of a troop or council for ignoring the ban on gays.
The ban made news in Rhode Island last year, when a 16-year-old Eagle Scout filed a complaint with the Rhode Island
Human Rights Commission saying he was denied a job at a Scout camp because he is gay.
Second Boy Scout troop vows to defy ban on gays Boy Scout Troop 28, of Providence, joins Cub
Scout Pack 88, also of Providence, to publicly say it will ignore the national policy.
By JENNIFER LEVITZ, Journal Staff Writer PROVIDENCE --
Boy Scout Troop 28 sleeps outdoors in winter and hikes Mount Washington in sleet. But it might be facing its
roughest venture yet: Bucking a Boy Scouts of America rule that bans gays.
Troop 28, of Providence, has become the second Rhode Island scouting chapter to publicly say it will ignore
the national policy.
Some 21 people signed the letter -- a promise to defy the policy -- that was sent Wednesday to the Narragansett
Council of Boy Scouts. Among those who signed were parents, an Eagle Scout, and troop leaders, including the associate
dean of undergraduates at Brown University.
The troop joins six leaders of Cub Scout Pack 88, Providence, who two weeks ago sent a similar letter. Since
the summer Supreme Court ruling upholding the Scout policy, at least a dozen troops nationwide have also said they
will ignore the Scout rule. The ban is not written outright, but is rooted in a 1910 oath that says Scouts must
keep themselves "morally straight."
Like leaders of Pack 88, the leaders of Troop 28 believe the words "morally straight" are not
related to sexual orientation. Allen M. Dennison is the assistant scoutmaster of Troop 28, and he has four sons
in scouting. One is an Eagle Scout.
"The oath did not mean to ban homosexuals but to keep on the straight and narrow and do what is right,"
he said. "Our assessment of what is right is that everyone be included, and that includes gay leaders and
The Narragansett Council will forward the letter from Troop 28 to the Boy Scouts of America headquarters
in Irving, Texas, as it did with the letter from Pack 88, David Preston, a spokesman for the state council, said
Wednesday. Since it sent the letter, Pack 88 hasn't heard from the national Boy Scouts regarding its status, a
pack leader said this week.
Greg Shields, the national spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America, did not return a phone call Wednesday.
The official national Scout rule is that members who defy the rules of the governing body can no longer
consider themselves Scouts, Scott Pusillo, of Scouting for All, a grassroots organization, said Wednesday. But
the Boy Scouts of America have never revoked the charter of a troop or council for ignoring the ban on gays, he
The letter from Troop 28 says that there is "no valid reason to exclude gay men and boys from scouting."
"Neither religious beliefs regarding homosexuality nor unwarranted fears of abuse justify excluding
thousands of committed, talented, moral boys and leaders from the Boy Scouts," the letter said.
Robert A. Shaw, the troop's committee chair and an associate dean at Brown University, said some people
oppose inclusion of gays because they link pedophilia to homosexuality. "As for the fears of molestation,
they are unfounded," Shaw wrote Nov. 7 in a separate letter to parents of Scouts.
"Gay men are no more likely to seek children as sexual partners than heterosexual men are," wrote
Shaw, whose two sons are in scouting.
Furthermore, the Boy Scouts' careful screening of potential leaders, and Scout policies that there always
be at least two adults present at a Scout activity, ensure the safety of Scouts, Shaw wrote.
Preston, the spokesman for the Narragansett Council, said Wednesday that state Scout leaders have "consistently
and emphatically rejected the myth that there is some relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia."
The actions of Pack 88 and Troop 28 come after Robert H. Pease, the president of the executive board of
the Narragansett Council, released a statement saying the council and the "majority" of Americans support
the ban on gays in scouting. Because the state Scouts sent a resolution to the national Scouts last year, asking
them to review the policy, some people believed they were working behind the scenes for more inclusive views.
The Narragansett Council consists of 355 troops, packs and explorer posts. Many members have written in
support of Pease's statement, Preston said.
Anthony Maione, director of the National Conference for Community and Justice, in Providence, applauded
Troop 28 and Pack 88. They are giving young people a "great example," he said on Wednesday, comparing
them to civil rights activists at segregated lunch counters in the 1960s.
"People said: 'This is wrong. I'm going to sit here anyway,'" Maione said.
Maione, the United Way, the Rhode Island Council of Churches, and gay activists have urged Scouts in Rhode
Island to adopt more inclusive views. The United Way points to, for instance, Scouts Canada, where sexual orientation
is not considered.
"Sexual orientation, for us, has no bearing on a person's ability to participate in our program,"
Andy McLaughlin, spokesman for Scouts Canada, which has 200,000 members, said recently, adding that the recent
decision to charter a troop for gay teens brought little criticism.
Dennison, the assistant troopmaster of Troop 28, and a doctor in Barrington, said the situation is a great
civic lesson for his sons. In every organization, he said, there's going to be parts you don't like. Do you quit,
or stay in, and push for change?
His son, Thayer Dennison, 13 and a Scout, says sexual orientation is a "stupid reason" to exclude
a person from scouting. He said he worries that if Scouts don't change, they will get kicked out of schools and
churches, and that he and his friends won't be able to become Eagle Scouts. Across the country, public entities
with their own anti-discrimination laws have said they can't back an organization that discriminates. In Rhode
Island, gay activists are now investigating the ties between Scouts, and schools
Everyone in Troop 28 probably knows someone who is gay, Thayer said, and they wouldn't mind if that person
was a Scout or a leader.
"Every single gay person I've met is pretty nice actually, and I've met 10 different people,"
he said. "They are not any different than us."