Showing posts with label Boy Scouts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Boy Scouts. Show all posts

August 3, 2017

Boy Scouts Chief Disputes Trump's Lie About His Speech was "Greatest Ever'

President Trump waves after speaking to Boy Scouts during the National Boy Scout Jamboree at Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, West Virginia, on July 24, 2017.Getty


The Boy Scouts are disputing President Trump's claim that he was told his speech last week at their national jamboree event was the "the greatest speech ever made to them." 
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal after the event last week, the president claimed that he received a call from the head of the Boy Scouts praising his speech. This came after Mr. Trump appeared to get annoyed that a reporter said that there was "mixed" reaction to his speech. 
"There was no mix there. That was a standing ovation from the time I walked out to the time I left, and for five minutes after I had already gone. There was no mix," Trump said, according to a transcript obtained by Politico. 
"And I got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them, and they were very thankful. So there was — there was no mix," Mr. Trump added. 
But the Boy Scouts told Time magazine and other outlets Tuesday that they aren't aware of a call being placed to the White House by national leadership, saying that a statement from the organization's chief scout executive last week speaks for itself
"I want to extend my sincere apologies to those in our Scouting family who were offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree," Michael Surbaugh said in the statement last Thursday. "That was never our intent. The invitation for the sitting U.S. President to visit the National Jamboree is a long-standing tradition that has been extended to the leader of our nation that has had a Jamboree during his term since 1937. It is in no way an endorsement of any person, party or policies."
The speech from the president was highly political, with comments, for example, calling on Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare, boasting of states where he beat Hillary Clinton, and blasting the "fake media."

January 30, 2017

Boy Scouts Will Allow Transgender Children that Identify as Boys to Join

The Boy Scouts of America announced Monday that it will allow transgender children who identify as boys to enroll in its boys only programs.

The organization said it had made the decision to begin basing enrollment in its boys-only programs on the gender a child or parent lists on the application to become a scout. The Boy Scouts had previously held a policy that relied on the gender listed on a child’s birth certificate for those programs.

The organization's leadership had considered a recent case in Secaucus, New Jersey, where an 8-year-old transgender child had been asked to leave his Scout troop after parents and leaders found out he is transgender. But the statement issued Monday said the change was made because of the larger conversation about gender identity going on around the country.

"For more than 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America, along with schools, youth sports and other youth organizations, have ultimately deferred to the information on an individual's birth certificate to determine eligibility for our single-gender programs," the statement said. “However, that approach is no longer sufficient as communities and state laws are interpreting gender identity differently, and these laws vary widely from state to state.” 

Kristie Maldonado said she had mixed emotions Monday night when a representative of Boy Scouts of America called to tell her the organization would allow her son, Joe, to re-enroll in his troop after he was asked to leave last fall. Maldonado said she would like her son to rejoin the Secaucus troop, but only if the scout leader who made the previous decision leaves.

She said Joe, who will turn 9 on Wednesday, has spoken publicly about the incident. She called him a "ham" and noted he had a big birthday party on Saturday with the mayor of Secaucus in attendance.

"I'm so grateful. I really am that they're accepting and that there won't be any issues. They (other transgender youth) won't have to go through what my son went through," Maldonado said when reached by phone Monday. "It's a big change for everybody that all are accepted now ... I'm so delighted that they finally called and they did say this, but I'm still angry."

Maldonado said the earlier decision to remove her son from the troop made him feel different, and she wanted to make sure he knew the troop made a mistake.

The Boys Scouts said the enrollment decision goes into effect immediately.

"Our organization's local councils will help find units that can provide for the best interest of the child," the statement said.

Zach Wahls, co-founder of the groups Scouts for Equality, called the decision historic.

"The decision to allow transgender boys to participate in the Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts is an important step forward for this American institution," he wrote in a statement posted to social media. "We are incredibly proud of Joe Maldonado — the transgender boy from New Jersey whose expulsion last year ignited this controversy — and his mother Kristie for their courage in doing what they knew was right. We are also proud of the Boy Scouts for deciding to do the right thing."

Boy Scouts of America leaders lifted a blanket ban on gay troop leaders and employees in July 2015 amid intense pressure. The group had, after heated internal debate, decided in 2013 to allow openly gay youth as scouts.

The national Girl Scouts organization, which is not affiliated with the Boy Scouts, has accepted transgender members for years.

Associated Press

December 27, 2016

8 yr Old transgender Kicked Out of Scouts After Parents Complaint

 Why would any parent, a real parent even non educated parent would want this boy kicked out because of what they think he carries underneath his pants? If so those parents are pornographically bigots. We are born the way we are and none of us are born with anything that can stick to someone else. adamfoxie blog

An 8-year-old transgender boy has been barred from Cub Scout Pack 87 because other Scouts’ parents complained he was born a girl, according to a report by

The report says Joe Maldonado had been a member of the pack for about a month, and his status as a transgender boy wasn’t a secret. Joe had been identifying and living as a boy for more than a year, the report says. His mother said none of the fellow Scouts complained — only parents — according to the report.

“It made me mad,” the report quotes Joe saying. “I had a sad face, but I wasn’t crying. I’m way more angry than sad. My identity is a boy. If I was them, I would let every person in the world go in. It’s right to do.”
According to the report, the Scouts organization declined to say whether it has a written transgender policy.

The Boy Scouts of America opened its membership to gay scouts in 2013, but made no mention of gender identity in its policy at the time. The Scouts’ longstanding ban on gay adults remained in force. In 2014, the Scouts’ new president said he would have moved to allow gay adults in the organization, but at that point opposed any further attempts to address the policy.
The organization eventually changed its stance on that issue as well — voting in 2015 to allow gay Scout leaders.

Last year in California, five girls — not transgender boys, but simply girls — endeavored to get their local Scout pack to accept them as members. A New York Times report noted the significant legal challenges they faced — in particular that Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination by sex, makes an exception for the Boy Scouts.

“We understand that the values and the lessons of scouting are attractive to the entire family,” the national Boy Scouts organization said in an email quoted by the Times. “However, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts are year-round programs for boys and young men.”
The Girl Scouts of America has no prohibition on transgender members — ebut says on its website placement will be handled “on a case-by-case basis.”

“Girl Scouts is proud to be the premiere leadership organization for girls in the country. Placement of transgender youth is handled on a case-by-case basis, with the welfare and best interests of the child and the members of the troop/group in question a top priority,” the organization says. “That said, if the child is recognized by the family and school/community as a girl and lives culturally as a girl, then Girl Scouts is an organization that can serve her in a setting that is both emotionally and physically safe.”

July 16, 2015

Gov.Scott Walker Hits Emergency Brakes on Boy Scouts and gay Discrimination

 I say things I don’t mean when tired or when I play politics

Gov. Scott Walker, who recently expressed support for a ban on gay Boy Scout leaders because it “protected children,” said on Wednesday that he did not mean that children needed “physical protection” from gay scoutmasters – but rather protection from the debate over the ban.

In comments published on Tuesday by The Independent Journal Review, a news website that is popular with young conservatives, Mr. Walker said, “I have had a lifelong commitment to the Scouts and support the previous membership policy because it protected children and advanced Scout values.” But during a brief press conference in South Carolina on Wednesday, Mr. Walker said the decision on the ban was “up to the Boy Scouts” and added that his earlier remarks were not about protecting children from gay people.

“The protection was not a physical protection,” he said, but rather about “protecting them from being involved in the very thing you’re talking about right now, the political and media discussion about it, instead of just focusing on what Scouts is about, which is about camping and citizenship and things of that nature.”

Staking out increasingly conservative positions has emerged as a key part of Mr. Walker’s strategy to compete for votes against the 14 other Republicans running for president. He has been vocal in his opposition to same-sex marriage and his support for amending the United States Constitution to allow states to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

In response to another question, Mr. Walker indicated that he would consider Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina as a vice-presidential running mate if he won the Republican Party’s nomination, though he repeatedly emphasized that the notion was premature.

“Certainly Nikki’s a friend of mine, she has been a very capable governor, and there will be a long list of people like her, but again, like I said, it’s premature,” Mr. Walker said.

He did sketch out the kind of person he would seek as a running mate, if he earned the nomination: “Primarily someone who is capable of being an outstanding president if god forbid something were to happen to me,” as well as someone who “shares my values and my concerns.”

May 8, 2014

Gay Eagle Scout Will Be Booted but his Straight Twin Wont

Gay Eagle Scout Will Be Booted, But His Straight Twin Can Stay

  • Both are identical twins
  • Both are seniors at Nathan Hale High School in Seattle, Washington
  • Both received the rank of Eagle Scout over the past weekend
  • Both have participated in scouting for seven years
  • Both earned the same 22 merit badges
Yet one of them is about to be booted from the scouts for one small characteristic that makes them slightly different: one is gay and one is straight. You can probably guess which one is being shown the door!
Last year, after a history of bigotry, the Boy Scouts of America tried to implement a more tolerant stance when it decided to allow gay youths to participate in its organizations. Gay adults, however, were still banned and a number of parent and community leaders have been kicked out simply because of their sexual orientation.
As KOMO News reports, this discriminatory stance has left Liam, the gay twin, in limbo. Though he still has some time to participate with the Boy Scouts as a youth, his days are numbered. Meanwhile, August is free to continue with scouting indefinitely based on his heterosexuality.
The similarities between the twins highlight just how backwards the Boy Scouts’ approach is. To delineate between two scouts with the same set of experiences based solely on a factor that is irrelevant to scouting is ridiculous.
“It was an interesting revelation to see the Boy Scouts come together as a non-inclusive organization. I don’t think it’s true to the scouting way,” said Liam, the gay twin. “The more conversations we have, the better chance we have of getting it overturned.”
Enabling a rule change within the Scouts is certainly a goal of Liam’s. He expressed that when he has children of his own, he would like to see them involved in scouting, and ideally be permitted to participate as a leader himself.
Sadly, the Easton-Calabrias’s story is not unique. The Tessier family in Kensington, Maryland demonstrated a similar controversy regarding LGBT scouting siblings. In February, 17-year-old Pascal Tessier became the first openly gay Eagle Scout under the newly adopted “homosexuals are okay until they’re adults” policy. Incidentally, Pascal’s older brother, Lucien, is also gay and also an Eagle Scout. As a 21-year-old, however, Lucien is no longer able to affiliate with the Boy Scouts, a reality that Pascal will soon have to face himself.
At least the aforementioned pairs of brothers were able to receive the Eagle ranking after all that hard work. Just last year in Moraga, California, Ryan Andresen completed all of the requirements to become an Eagle Scout, only to see his application rejected by Boy Scout leaders because Andresen had turned 18 and is gay.
Seeing these identical faces treated differently by the Boy Scouts is bound to be bad PR for the organization. Chalk that up as another trouble the group faces for insisting to cling to a policy of intolerance. 

April 30, 2014

Boy Scout Accidentally Outed at Facebook

Garrett Bryant and Kat Bryant. Garrett will not be able to work at a Boy Scout camp becuase he is gay.

A longtime member of the Boy Scouts who was accidentally outed as gay on Facebook lost out on a coveted summer job with the organization because of the social media mistake.
Garrett Bryant, 19, was looking forward to a leadership position in Arizona when he was told last month that he was being turned down because of his sexuality.

"I did the best I could to follow BSAs 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy for gay members," Bryant told the Daily News on Tuesday. "But I couldn't control other people outing me, even if by accident. Following the rules as being an Eagle Scout apparently weren't enough for me to stay on camp staff."
One week before he received the bad news, Bryant had updated his status on Facebook to say he was in a relationship. He received many congratulatory responses, and at least one friend inquired, “what's his name?"

Bryant realized the mistake nine to 12 hours later and removed the comments, but it was too late. He says he believes Boy Scouts officials saw the post or were told of it.
When he called to require about why he was turned down, he was told "homosexuality" was the reason, he said.
Garrett Bryant and Kat Bryant. Garrett will not be able to work at a Boy Scout camp because he is gay.

Garrett Bryant came out to his mother, Kat, last year.

"I felt just extreme sadness," the Northern Arizona University freshman told The News. "I am not one to cry easily. It was pretty intense."
This year the Boy Scouts began allowing openly gay teens into their ranks, but still don't allow gay adults. Bryant is still considered a youth for many programs in the organization, but not for all of them.

"The whole reason we went public with it is to bring it to light that halfway is nowhere near good enough," said mom Kat Bryant, who has known since the fall that her son is gay.
And when Garrett turns 21, he may face more problems from the organization’s antiquated rules — and all because of the social media miscue.

“How will they [BSA] even know these people are gay unless they start digging into people’s Facebook posts?" webmaster Ed Henderson told NBC News, which first reported the story. "It’s going to create a witch hunt."

March 3, 2014

Disney Runs Out of Patience with Scouts Over Gay Discrimination


The Walt Disney Company has given notice to the Boy Scouts of America that it will pull all funding to the group starting in 2015 because of a BSA membership policy that bans gay leaders, the entertainment company said Friday.

Disney does not give money directly to the national organization or local BSA councils. However, through its VoluntEARS program, Disney allows employees to do volunteer work in exchange for cash donations to the charities of their choice.
Employees taking part in the VoluntEARS program will no longer be able to submit the funds to the Boy Scouts, the organization said. The new policy will not affect Walt Disney employees who volunteer with the Scouts, the company said.

"We believe every child deserves the opportunity to be a part of the Scouting experience, and we are disappointed in this decision because it will impact our ability to serve kids," BSA spokesman Deron Smith said in a statement. “America’s youth need Scouting, and by continuing to focus on the goals that unite us, we continue to accomplish incredible things for young people and the communities we serve."

And they said, “I do” and lived happily ever after. The End.

Though the Boy Scouts voted last year to allow gay youths to join its ranks, the group maintains a ban on gay Scout leaders.
 Obese kids banned from Boy Scout outing Pastors differ on Boy Scouts' decision Scouts defy leaders at gay pride parade Alabama church asks Boy Scouts to leave
According to Disney’s charitable giving guidelines, groups become ineligible to receive Disney funding if they "discriminate in the provision of services unlawfully or in a manner inconsistent with Disney's policies on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, national origin, age, marital status, mental or physical ability, or sexual orientation."

Disney would not divulge its formula for converting volunteer hours to dollars, but a chart on Disney's corporate website shows that in 2010, employees raised $4.8 million via 548,000 volunteer hours, which works out to $8.79 an hour.
Among the events for which employees volunteered were a triathlon for Children's Hospital Los Angeles, the Revlon Run-Walk for cancer, Children's Hospital of Orange County Walk at Disneyland Resort and the Champion 5K at ESPN for the V Foundation, according to Disney.
Deena Fidas, the director of workplace equality for the Human Rights Campaign, said Disney's decision "carries a unique weight. When you think about brands that exemplify childhood, you think of Disney, and with them dissociating with BSA, it speaks volumes of where we are with the views we want to send to young people.”

In a recent report, HRC cited numerous victories in its quest to ensure workplace equality and applauded the majority of Fortune 500 companies that now offer sexual-orientation and gender-identity protections to their employees.
Despite that, “we know that over 50% of (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) employees remain closeted on the job," the report said.

On Thursday, Scouts for Equality, which says it works to end discrimination within the BSA, praised Walt Disney World for ending local support for the BSA's Central Florida Council.
"We're never happy to see Scouting suffer as a result of the BSA's anti-gay policy, but Disney made the right decision to withhold support until Scouting is fully inclusive," Eagle Scout and Scouts for Equality co-founder Zach Wahls said in a statement.
Scouts for Equality says Disney joins Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar, Major League Soccer, Merck, Intel and UPS as companies who have ended partnerships with the Scouts because of its policy. Fidas said Alcoa and AT&T are also on that list.

By Devon M. Sayers, CNN

January 1, 2014

Today Gay Youth are Safe Serving in Boy Scouts

Scouts allow gay youths
Jennifer Tyrrell hugs Pascal Tessier in May at a news conference in Grapevine, Texas, marking the end of the Boy Scouts' ban on openly gay youths. Tyrrell's ouster as a lesbian Cub Scout den leader will remain in effect. (Stewart House / Getty Images / May 23, 2013)

Pascal Tessier, 17, had aspired to rise to the rank of Eagle Scout since he was in the sixth grade.
"It shows to everyone that I'm a capable person — that I'm worth something," said Tessier, of Kensington, Md.
He knew it would be an arduous process to achieve Scouting's highest honor: earn 21 merit badges, play a leadership role in the troop, complete a service project and undergo a board of review. Tessier also knew there was one requirement that he could never meet: being straight.
For years, Boy Scouts who came out publicly were forced to leave the organization.
But on Wednesday the Boy Scouts of America is lifting its ban on openly gay youths, and for the first time in the organization's 103-year history, members such as Tessier — who realized he was gay after he joined — will be able to remain in Scouting.
"Every organization has to be a living entity and change with the times, including churches and including the Boy Scouts," said Alan Snyder, who voted in favor of the change as board chairman of the Boy Scouts' Western Los Angeles County Council, which covers about two-thirds of the county and includes about 5,000 volunteers and 14,000 boys.
The lengthy, controversial approval process this year sparked protests and garnered national attention.
President Obama, several senators, New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and others spoke out in favor of allowing gay Scouts. Petitions purportedly bearing 1.4 million signatures in favor of ending the ban were presented at Scouting headquarters in Texas.
But the ban had strong backing from other Scout constituencies, including the Southern Baptist Convention and the conservative Family Research Council, which bought an ad defending it.
The new policy — approved by 61% of the national council in May — has spawned differences of opinion and alternative Scouting groups.
Some troops in California had allowed gay Scouts before the ban was lifted, including a troop in Santa Monica. Other California troops including some in Orange County had adhered to the national policy. In Los Angeles County, Snyder said, some officials initially balked at lifting the ban.
"At a board level in our local council, the heartwarming aspect of it has been that as people became knowledgeable on the issues, even board members that were cool to the idea have accepted it," said Snyder, managing partner at the investment firm Shinnecock Partners in Los Angeles.
Boy Scouts' nationwide membership has dropped about 19% in the last decade to 2.6 million. About 70% of troops are sponsored by religious groups, some of which threatened to pull their charters if the ban was lifted.
Southern Baptist Convention leaders passed a resolution in June expressing their opposition to lifting the ban and their disappointment in the Boy Scouts.
But others, including the largest sponsor, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, supported the proposal. Catholic Scouting leaders said lifting the ban did not conflict with their teachings.
After officials voted to lift the ban, they published new membership standards online clarifying frequently asked questions including: "Should special arrangements be made to accommodate youth in camp, on trips, or during events based on same-sex attraction?"
The answer, in part: "We are all Scouts and are accepting of all members of the Scouting family."
It took years for Tessier to earn the badges required to become an Eagle Scout. He served as troop scribe, patrol leader and assistant senior patrol leader, and designed his service project, restoring a brick walkway at a local Audubon Society. After Tessier and his mother spoke out against the ban, effectively outing him, he was sure he would lose his chance to become an Eagle Scout if the ban was not lifted.
"There was in fact a fear of being kicked out of Scouting because you were gay," Tessier said.
He said once the new policy was announced, two Scouts in his troop came out as gay.

By Molly Hennessy-Fiske


LA Times

December 28, 2013

Gay Youth Will Have Boy Scouts Open up for Them for First Time Jan 1st

 The Boy Scouts of America will accept openly gay youths starting on New Year’s Day, a historic change that has prompted the BSA to ponder a host of potential complications — ranging from policies on tent mates and showers to whether Scouts can march in gay pride parades.
Yet despite their be-prepared approach, BSA leaders are rooting for the change to be a non-event, comparable to another New Year's Day in 2000 when widespread fears of digital-clock chaos to start the new millennium proved unfounded.
"My hope is there will be the same effect this Jan. 1 as the Y2K scare," said Brad Haddock, a BSA national executive board member who chairs the policy implementation committee. "It's business as usual, nothing happens and we move forward."
Some churches are dropping their sponsorship of Scout units because of the new policy and some families are switching to a new conservative alternative called Trail Life USA. But massive defections haven't materialized and most major sponsors, including the Roman Catholic and Mormon churches, are maintaining ties.
"There hasn't been a whole lot of fallout," said Haddock, a lawyer from Wichita, Kan. "If a church said they wouldn't work with us, we'd have a church right down the street say, 'We'll take the troop.'"
The new policy was approved in May, with support from 60 percent of the 1,400 voting members of the BSA's National Council. The vote followed bitter nationwide debate, and was accompanied by an announcement that the BSA would continue to exclude openly gay adults from leadership positions.
Under the new membership policy, youths can no longer be barred from the Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts or coed Venturers program solely on the basis of sexual orientation. However, gay Scouts will face some limitations.
"Any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting," says one BSA document. "No member may use Scouting to promote or advance any social or political position or agenda, including on the matter of sexual orientation."
Trying to anticipate potential friction, the BSA has distributed extensive explanations and question-and-answer documents related to the policy.
Some examples:
—Could a Scout march in uniform in a gay-pride parade? No, says the BSA. "Each youth member is free as an individual to express his or her thoughts or take action on political or social issues but must not use Scouting's official uniforms and insignia when doing so."
—How publicly active could a gay Scout be, in terms of gay-rights advocacy? The BSA's reply: "While a youth member may acknowledge his or her sexual preference, that acknowledgment may not reach the level of distraction, which may include advocacy, promotion, or the distribution of information of a sexual nature."
A frequently-asked-questions document anticipates that some objections might surface from parents — or Scouts themselves — in cases where a unit includes an openly gay boy.
Regarding shower and toilet facilities, the BSA says it is encouraging units to provide greater individual privacy, including moving away from the tradition of group showers.
"The adult leaders have the discretion to arrange private showering times and locations," the BSA says.
Sleeping arrangements also are addressed, with specific decisions left to unit leaders.
"If a Scout or parent of a Scout makes a request to not tent with another Scout, their wishes should be honored," says the BSA.
Haddock says "isolated pockets" of problems are likely to surface, but overall he expects adult leaders will have the skills to defuse potential conflicts.
There are about 1 million adult leaders and 2.6 million youth members in Scouting in the U.S. Of the roughly 110,000 Scout units, 70 percent are sponsored by religious organizations, including several conservative denominations that had long supported the BSA's exclusion of gay youth and gay adults.
Among the major sponsors, the Southern Baptist Convention made clear its disappointment with the new youth policy, but left the decision on whether to cut ties up to local churches. An SBC spokesman, Sing Oldham, said it was not known how many churches have done so.
The biggest sponsor of Scout units — the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — commended the BSA for a "thoughtful, good-faith effort" to address a challenging issue, and said it would stay engaged in Scouting.
John Gailey of the Utah National Parks Council, the nation's largest council, said its youth membership had increased from 74,148 in December 2012 to 75,863 this month.
Like the Mormons, the Roman Catholic Church has generally accepted the new policy. Many parishes will continue to sponsor Scout units, though a few have considered cutting ties.
The National Catholic Committee on Scouting posted a question-and-answer document on its website, delving into the intersection of Scouting policy and Catholic teaching.
"The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that individuals who disclose a same-sex attraction are to be treated with the same dignity due all human beings ... and also teaches that engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage is always immoral," says the Q-and-A, concluding that the new BSA policy does not contradict Catholic teaching.
The ultimate decision on whether parishes would maintain or cut ties with the BSA was left to individual bishops. Several expressed cautious support for continuing in Scouting.
"As the new policy currently stands, I see no reason to prohibit our parishes from sponsoring Boy Scout troops," said Rev. Kevin Rhoades, bishop of Indiana's Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese. "At the same time, it is critical that we be vigilant on how this new policy is interpreted and implemented."
One likely target of such scrutiny will be former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, scheduled to take over in the spring as the BSA's next president. As leader of the Pentagon, Gates helped change the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy banning openly gay soldiers, and gay-rights groups hope he will try to end the BSA's ban on gay adult leaders.
The new youth policy was approved during a BSA meeting in May in the Dallas-Fort Worth suburb of Grapevine, near the Scouts' national headquarters in Irving, Texas.
Texas has a long heritage of Scouting, with tens of thousands of youth members and many families claiming generations of Eagle Scouts. Among them is Gov. Rick Perry, who achieved Scouting's highest rank growing up in the small town of Paint Creek.
The membership debate was closely followed by local Scouts on both sides; some carried signs and held rallies outside the meeting place. But in subsequent months, the debate has quieted.
Bill Helfand, scoutmaster of Troop 55 in Houston, said membership in his troop has remained steady at about 225 boys.
"We never considered sexual orientation, and I don't think many troops really did," Helfand said. "I don't know whether we had Scouts who are homosexual. I don't inquire ... It's not a matter of concern."
Helfand said the membership debate, while closely covered in the media, did not extend into his meetings with leaders and parents, besides occasional discussion of the policy at camp-outs. He says he hasn't talked to any Scout about his sexual orientation and doesn't intend to.
"I know that this is something that people felt was a momentous turning point for Scouting," Helfand said. "Everybody I know has made Scouting available to every boy who wants it, and that's what we continue to do."
However, some Texas parents and leaders have decided to switch to Trail Life USA, an alternative which declares itself "a Christian adventure, character, and leadership program for young men." Among them is Ron Orr, a business consultant from the Fort Worth area who is signing up local units for the group.
So far, he said he has 25 groups "pre-chartered" for a Jan. 1 launch date in the territory covered by the BSA's Circle Ten and Longhorn councils. That's modest compared to the 39,000 Scouts served by the Circle Ten council alone.
Orr is part of a family with four generations of Eagle Scouts. His older son recently earned his Eagle rank and his younger son was on the verge of doing likewise. But Orr said he could not stand by after the policy change.
"As Christians, from a scriptural basis, we love all folks, but the scripture is very clear that being homosexual is a sin," Orr said. "We've got to be able to hold a strong line and set a consistent example for our young men."
Orr said his decision to cut ties with the BSA rested in part on the Scout Oath, which includes the admonition to remain "morally straight."
Scott Scarborough of Lubbock, Texas, is helping Orr recruit Trail Life members in the Texas Panhandle, a mostly rural, conservative region. Scarborough said he offered to let his 14-year-old son stay in Boy Scouts and achieve his Eagle rank, but the boy elected to join him in Trail Life.
Orr and Scarborough said they didn't consider themselves rivals to the Boy Scouts, though they've chosen a different path.
"Our tradition comes out of Boy Scouts," Scarborough said. "We'll never not honor that heritage."

December 20, 2013

Lockheed Martin Halts Donations to Boy Scouts Over Gay Discrimination

Lockheed Martin Corp, the top U.S. defense contractor, has halted donations to the Boy Scouts of America because of the group's policies on religion and to exclude some gays from its ranks, it said on Thursday.
Lockheed’s decision makes it the latest corporate sponsor to pull its donations from the Scouts, which voted to end a ban on gay scouts effective at the start of 2014, but has left in place a prohibition on gays serving as adult Scout leaders.

"While we applaud the mission of the Boy Scouts and the good things they do in our communities, their policies that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and religious affiliation conflict with Lockheed Martin policies," spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in a statement.
The Boy Scouts believe that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God, the group says in its charter.

Lockheed Martin (3x2)Lockheed did not disclose the amount of money it regularly donated to the Scouts.
Scouts spokesman Deron Smith said the organization that has had several million members over its more than century-long history, respected Lockheed's right to express its own opinion.
“Scouting believes that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to accomplish the common good," Smith said in an emailed statement.

The ban on gays in leadership also has cost the Boy Scouts other corporate sponsors.
Illinois-based Caterpillar Inc suspended its $25,000-a-year support for a local Illinois council in 2013, saying it could not support an organization that continued to discriminate against homosexuals.
Intel Corp, one of the largest corporate sponsors of the Boy Scouts, said in September 2012 that it would stop supporting troops that continue to ban gay scouts. Intel donated about $700,000 in 2009, according to the American Independent magazine.

The Merck Foundation also stopped giving to the national Boy Scouts organization in recent years.
Former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the next Boy Scouts president, will face the task of smoothing out the divisions within the organization and restoring the tarnished public image.
As defense secretary, Gates supported President Barack Obama's withdrawal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that prevented gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.
While a Boy Scout, Gates achieved the highest honor of Eagle Scout. He is due to begin his two-year term in May 2014.

November 8, 2013

Gay Sting Goes Bad for 22 yrOld Eagle Scout Suing $5Mil


Charles Samuel Couch, who grew up in Hawthorne, is attending Temple University on the East Coast this year, but the 22-year-old's dream had been to stay on the West Coast and attend perhaps Stanford or the University of Washington.
But an unsettling incident last year prompted the longtime Eagle Scout to get out of Southern California, after he was wrongfully, publicly, named by the Manhattan Beach Police Departmentfor luring a boy into a public bathroom for sex.
His ordeal began in 2012 when Couch was arrested and charged with resisting arrest during a "gay sting" of a public bathroom near the Strand. His laptop with all his schoolwork on it was confiscated by a police officer and never returned, forcing him to drop out of El Camino College.
Since his teenage years, Samuel Couch has volunteered to help people with special needs.
Since his teenage years, Samuel Couch has volunteered to help people with special needs.


The cops soon acknowledged that they had mistakenly arrested Couch, and that should have been the end of things.
But then, an even worse event prompted Couch to move nearly 3,000 miles away.
On April 2, 2012, full-on personal disaster struck Couch: The Daily Breeze posted an online story about the sex sting and, in a kind of rogue's gallery of those arrested, it published his photo, name and city of residence. Two days later, the print version topped page A3; his photo ran on A6. (The photos aren't online anymore, apparently lost with others during a web system overhaul.)
"I was horrified," Couch says. "I was shocked."
He's now asking for $5 million in damages from the city of Manhattan Beach and 16 of its police officers for harassment, discrimination and violation of his rights. He also wants his name removed from the Internet in conjunction with the case.
"We're looking for the cops to file with the court a petition to seal and destroy the records of the arrest," Bruce Nickerson, Couch's attorney, says. "I will use that to try and get a factual finding of innocence from the court."
Couch's unusual case fits the old adage that no good turn goes unpunished.
Since his teenage years, Couch has volunteered to help people with special needs. At 18, he took a job with Cambrian Homecare in Long Beach in order to be a caregiver for a child identified in his lawsuit as "D.K.," the young son of a family he'd known most of his life.
"We have been longtime family friends through the same church," Couch says. "They began looking for someone to be a caregiver for their child — they approached me first."
D.K. suffers from Prader-Willi syndrome, a disease that causes an insatiable appetite, behavioral problems and incomplete sexual development.
Couch took D.K. on regular walks on the beach so that he'd get enough exercise. On March 9, 2012, as he and D.K. walked near Marine Avenue and the Strand, the boy needed to go to the bathroom. Couch found a public restroom, showed D.K. in and waited for him in the changing area.
"Another man came in, and we exchanged hellos and I didn't think much of it," Couch tells L.A. Weekly. "And he then went into one of the other stalls. A brief time later, the child came running out of the stall, very startled, and said, 'That man is looking at me through the hole.' At that time I said, 'OK, let's go.' "
That peeping Tom, it turned out, was allegedly undercover Manhattan Beach police officer John Nasori. Nasori and his fellow cops were conducting a sting — and the public bathroom they'd chosen was frequented by gay men cruising for sex.
"The police had received some complaints from lifeguards," Nickerson says, "chiefly that that particular bathroom was a place where gay persons meet to either go home or conceivably to engage in sexual conduct while they are inside the stall."
Couch knew none of this. As he and the boy hurried away from the peeping Tom, Nickerson says, Officer Nasori followed them, demanding, "Why are you leaving so quickly?"
Couch told D.K. to keep walking, but they soon were surrounded by several men who "looked like thugs," he recalls.
"In my mind, it was this child's safety," Couch says. "Initially I thought these guys probably have a malicious intent. It's likely they are gonna try to kidnap this kid for I don't know what reasons."
When Couch stood up against the men, "I was tackled, thrown to the ground . ... I had guys on top of me, other people grabbing my legs, arms."
The "thugs" turned out to be the beach city's police. The officers phoned the boy's parents and discovered that Couch really was his caregiver, and ultimately let him go with a "detention certificate" stating that he'd been arrested but not charged.
Yet the police weren't done with Couch. They refused to return his laptop for more than a year, Couch alleges, after having confiscated it from his car when a police officer said he needed to get D.K.'s backpack.
Nickerson says an officer ransacked Couch's car and took the computer from under a seat.
"He thinks there's kiddie porn there," a fed-up Nickerson says. "He still thinks my client is a pervert."
Manhattan Beach detectives found nothing incriminating, Nickerson says — just Couch's complicated computer science college work.
Eleven months later, Couch received a letter in which Manhattan Beach police informed him they were charging him with resisting arrest by an officer. A judge dropped the charges but not before Couch was compelled to attend several hearings.
What happened to Couch is atypical. But Jim Key, chief public affairs officer at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, says Couch's plight is one reason why sex-sting operations, and public release of names and photos of those involved, are problematic.
"We are opposed to the police department releasing the names and the pictures of these people who were simply charged with this victimless crime," Key says, in part "because there could be some people who are not guilty."
Key blasted Manhattan Beach for publishing names and photos of those arrested, saying that the singling out of gay men can ruin lives. "People in other cities who have been humiliated in a public manner have tried to kill themselves," he says.
Officials from the Gay and Lesbian Center have met with Manhattan Beach police to suggest better ways to clean up gay cruising locations, he says, and the organization has worked closely with theL.A. Police Department to minimize cruising.
But Key has received no indication that Manhattan Beach plans to change its ways.
"We would be happy to work with them," he says. With LAPD, "We worked to help spread the word, through LGBT media, social media and at public events, that that type of behavior will result in charges — you can be arrested."
On a broader level, Nickerson says gay stings are discriminatory. "They never do a sting operation with those kinds of officers if men are trying to pick up women — unless there is money involved," he says. "They only do it with men soliciting men."
That kind of bias, Key says, leads some gay men to cruise, because "a lot of people lead repressed or hidden lives, so they turn to this type of behavior."
Manhattan Beach police declined comment on Couch's federal lawsuit. Their lawyer, Eugene Ramirez, of Manning & Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez, Trester LLP, tells the Weekly, "I'm still looking to see if there are areas I can attack, or if we will just file our response."
Couch fears that his public naming by cops and the local newspaper — which potentially lives forever on Google — will hurt his career and dreams as he starts to look for internships in software engineering. His aim is to work for an organization such as NASA.
"Right now, I'm in the stage of my education career where internships are a very real thing," Couch tells the Weekly. Top employers, he says, "should be open to me. However, they do require a measure of security clearance, and ... I don't have the confidence of being able to check that box of saying, 'Yes, you may run a background check,' that they will find nothing."
Reach the writer at

Featured Posts

Second Day at Home {Adamfoxie}

I will rather post important stories not being published the way they should or post information in a new format that will h...