Tuesday, May 7, 2013

No More Discrimination in Scouting

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No More Discrimination in Scouting                                        

The Boy Scouts of America are about to vote on whether to stop discriminating against gay kids, but to make it happen, we need your help TODAY.

Dear Robert,

For generations, the Boy Scouts have provided training and education to help form young people into citizens and leaders, becoming an iconic part of
American life. Today some 2.7 million Scouts keep alive that tradition of woodcraft, community service, and patriotism.

But the civic virtue these Scouts represent is clouded by an unfortunate legacy: a blanket ban on gay and lesbian Scouts and leaders first put in place in 1978.

Under this policy, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have kicked out young men and denied them the Eagle rank, fired adult leaders and employees, and denied troops to tolerant churches and organizations. Even my own church in Petaluma – an Open and Affirming congregation of the United Church of Christ – was turned down by the BSA when we tried to form a scout troop. The reason? They were afraid that we wouldn’t enforce the anti-gay membership policies.

The American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association have long condemned these policies for the harm they do to LGBT young people.  Many parents have avoided Scouting because they don't want their kids to learn bigotry.  Public schools, once the largest sponsors of scout units, are almost completely gone in the wake of the BSA’s “victory” in the Supreme Court granting it an exemption from state and local non-discrimination laws.

Meanwhile, some members and leaders within the BSA have worked for years to make the organization inclusive, despite harsh opposition from the top leadership.  Many have sewn the Inclusive Scouting Award onto their uniforms to identify themselves as a friend to any scout or volunteer who is threatened with expulsion under the current policies, despite the BSA’s attempts to ban it.

The tipping point has finally been reached, and all those efforts are now paying off.

Every week, over five hundred new patches are shipped to Scouts and leaders in every part of the country.  Individual units are adopting non-discrimination policies in defiance of the ban.  
During last year’s presidential campaign, even President Obama and Mitt Romney both agreed that gay kids should not be kicked out of Scouting.  And later this month, the governing body of the BSA will be voting for the first time ever on whether to loosen or eliminate its gay ban.  

Now that the tide is turning, the ADA Education Fund, partnering with the Inclusive Scouting Network, needs your help. There are nearly 300 separate Boy Scout councils in the country that need to hear from their communities before they send delegates to Texas for the May vote. These delegates are your neighbors and coworkers and friends and family. Winning the vote in May will require thousands of face-to-face conversations with BSA leaders in every community to help them understand the harm that these policies continue to work on the young people in scouting, and on the organization itself.

Unfortunately, the BSA is already hearing other voices. In recent weeks, anti-gay groups including the Family Research Council and politicians including Texas Governor Rick Perry have spoken out in defense of anti-gay discrimination and have demanded that the BSA keep the gay ban in place.

We need to send them all a clear message: the BSA needs to embrace all Americans in order to be relevant to America in the 21st century. That means an end to all discrimination.  Period.  We are providing volunteers and resources to tell delegates exactly that, and will be bringing the stories of gay scouts and parents affected by this ban directly to the BSA’s convention in Texas.  We will make sure that the voices for inclusion within the BSA finally get a fair hearing.

We’ve only got three weeks to get this done.  Your help right now is absolutely critical.

Donate Now to help us reach every leader and voting delegate within the BSA and to allow us to provide resources to volunteers and supporters across the country.

Take Action by writing to your local BSA council, signing a local petition, volunteering to help with outreach, and encouraging everyone in your community involved with scouting to speak out for inclusion and wear the Inclusive Scouting patch.

Thank you,

Lynn Woolsey, former Member of Congress



P.S.  There are roughly 120,000 American kids in scouting today who will realize somewhere in their teens that the BSA’s anti-gay policies apply to them. Your $5 donation means five more patches on uniforms, and five more visible allies those young people will have when they need them.

“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well."

– President Barack Obama’s second inaugural address, January 21, 2013.

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