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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Boy Scouts Evicted From City Owned Building…

posted by on March 27 at 14:42 PM

…In Philadelphia.

For three years the Philadelphia council of the Boy Scouts of America held its ground. It resisted the city’s request to change its discriminatory policy toward gay people despite threats that if it did not do so, the city would evict the group from a municipal building where the Scouts have resided practically rent free since 1928.

[T]alks ended this week when the deadline passed for the local chapter to change its policy; on June 1 the group will be evicted.

“Since we were founded, we believe that open homosexuality would be inconsistent with the values that we want to communicate with our leaders,” said Gregg Shields, national spokesman for the Boy Scouts. “A belief in God is also mentioned in the Scout oath. We believe that those values are important. Tradition is important. Our mission is to instill those values in scouts and help them make good choices over their lifetimes.”

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The national Eagle Scout Association sent me a letter to find out what I've been up to lately... I told them I turned queer and then used the letter to wipe my ass.

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | March 27, 2008 2:51 PM

Good choice, Gregg.

Posted by umvue | March 27, 2008 2:54 PM

@1 - I got the same letter from NESA. Being gay as well, (and having been quitely ushered out of the BSA,) I'm still thinking of what my response should be.

I'm sure that local council in Philly would have loved to change their policies and stay in the building. (They kind of tried.) Unfortunately the BSA execs can't let them do that because they'd lose their biggest customer in the West - my brethren the MORMONS. They're ready to pull out of Scouting if they even start to hint that they might accept queers like us.

Posted by BrinkleyBoy | March 27, 2008 3:06 PM

@1: Yeah they stopped sending me correspondence years ago when I sent back most of my scout stuff along with "I'm a homo and you can suck dead farts out of my ass" letter.

It was effective. No mail ever since.

Posted by Dave Coffman | March 27, 2008 3:08 PM

So the Boy Scouts are heading for obscurity as a regional kind of church axillary. Is something taking their place as a national youth group that, you know, doesn't hate anybody?

Posted by elenchos | March 27, 2008 3:08 PM

The Mormons and other right-wing theocrats hijacked the 'scouting movement' many years ago. The Brown Shirts suit them.

Posted by Karlheinz Arschbomber | March 27, 2008 3:20 PM

My Son became a Webelo this week and I swear his troop means you no harm.

Posted by Peter F | March 27, 2008 3:21 PM

We could always try to resurrect the Kibbo Kift Kindred, which was a breakaway scouting and woodcraft group in England in the 20s through 50s.

If it weren't for that durned acronym...

No, really.

Posted by Breklor | March 27, 2008 3:22 PM

@7: I don't care if it means me no harm. I would worry if the troop means harm to him.

Kinda hard to have it both ways- either there's discrimination or there's not. The Supreme Court has gotten it right in my opinion. As a private organization, the Scouts have an absolute right to exclude people based on certain traits. Governments also have the right not to fund or subsidize such activities if the Scouts don't meet their requirements to do so.

Churches have taken over BSA. That's fine. It's also fine that they don't receive government handouts if they want to discriminate.

Posted by Dave Coffman | March 27, 2008 3:25 PM

That's terrific and everything Mr. Shields, and you'll continue to be able to do all that - just not on the taxpayers' dime anymore.

Feh, and I always thought "self-reliance" and developing "survival skills" were de rigeur attributes for Boy Scouts.

Posted by COMTE | March 27, 2008 3:34 PM

@9, Churches have nothing to do with our troop and the experience in scouts for him has been nothing but good over the last two years; I go to every meeting and activity with him and have yet to hear a single discriminatory word said. In our last den meeting, one boy when asked what he thought the "morally straight" part of the Scout Oath meant started to say that the only time he'd heard that word used was talking about people who were or weren't gay and the den leader shut down that kind of talk, told him that wasn't okay and let him know it was about doing what's right, nothing to do with sexuality. No one in our troop has forced any sort of religion or intolerant ideas on my son or I; the moment anyone tried to evangelize or proselytize would be the end of our involvement.

We just collected food for the local food bank from our neighbors, we're about to do a community project to clean up the local school grounds and I'm leading a meeting on art (my career) coming up next. Our experience of Scouting has been positive and harmless so far.

Posted by Peter F | March 27, 2008 3:35 PM

Such is the cost of bigotry. Let others take note.

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | March 27, 2008 3:41 PM

Peter F, that's great that your son is not encountering any discrimination or homophobia in his scouting experience. I'm glad. I would also say that I mostly had great experiences as a scout when I was a kid as well.

Nevertheless, what you and your son are experiencing is an anomaly, and contrary to the official policy of the national BSA. Their official policy is to boot out any gay scouts or gay adults that are scout leaders, etc. And while that policy may be quietly ignored here in hippy Seattle, it is strictly and enthusiastically adhered to in less progressive areas of the country.

As long as discrimination is their official policy, they should receive no support from any governmental agencies. If you don't like it, feel free to complain to the national BSA for their obstinate insistence on their "traditional" discrimination. Slavery used to be traditional too.

Posted by Reverse Polarity | March 27, 2008 4:06 PM

@11 It always starts out harmless- hell, my troop met in a Catholic church, yet I never saw any sort of bigotry... it was when I started working at a Mormon boyscout camp that things really changed. I remember the chilling roar of approval when the Supreme Court ruling was announced to the camp, and I damn sure remember a fellow counselor being outed and consequently disappearing in the middle of the night on an "impromptu family vacation".

...funny how that kind of shit can turn one off the whole organization.

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | March 27, 2008 4:15 PM

I understand and agree with the point that is being made about holding the organization accountable for discriminatory policies whether they even get enforced on a local level. It is possible/probable that our small part of the overall organization is an anomaly due to the near-total parental involvement and wish above all to just make it a fun experience for our kids.

I wish the BSA was more like the Girl Scouts, Campfire or the Canada Scouts. Eventually, I'm hope they will be.

Posted by Peter F | March 27, 2008 4:24 PM

I think it's absurd that the courts went along with the BSA's contention that they are a private organization given that they were chartered by Congress. But now they find themselves in a trap of their own making. You're a private club? Fine, stop sucking the teat of local, state and the federal governments and you can discriminate against gays and atheists all you want.

Posted by Bison | March 27, 2008 4:27 PM

elenchos @5 There's Spiral Scouts which my kids looved for the 3 years they were involved. Unfortunately, our leaders ran out of steam, so the group disbanded. If I weren't so busy running homeschool classes (and running kids TO classes), I'd re-start it.

Posted by amazonmidwife | March 27, 2008 4:37 PM

Good for Philadelphia. Finally, a municipality whose council shows some ethical and moral guts. Maybe. Who's local politics are more fun to follow: NY, DC, SF, Chicago, Miami, Philly, LA? Are we better off here?

Posted by chas Redmond | March 27, 2008 7:45 PM

Peter's comment exemplifies why the Scouts haven't gone out of business yet and why the Philly-type actions aren't going to do the trick alone. It's up to enlightened parents to say, hey, your national organization's policy is bs and my family's boycotting you until and unless it changes. We didn't let our son get within a thousand miles of the Scouts because of the policy. And he knows why, too. It's wrong to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation, and it's wrong to support organizations whose official policies facilitate that type of discrimination. Easy choice to make. No exceptions.

Posted by parent | March 27, 2008 7:55 PM

Great, now maybe the kids can meet in a Catholic church.That could be interesting.Thank you, Philadelphia.

Posted by Just a jerk | March 28, 2008 3:58 AM

Peter @ #11, I'm sure your kid's scout group is a great bunch. But what would happen if a gay-indentified kid wanted to join your group? You would usher him out the door.

I have no problem with BSA excluding whoever they want but don't give any of my tax money to them.

Posted by monkey | March 28, 2008 9:16 AM

monkey @ 21, The kids in our scout troop are all of 10 years old, so the issue of gay-identifying hasn't come up at all. I would take my son out of the troop if something like that situation happened. Honestly, though, most boys don't make it much further in Scouts and I don't expect my son to hang in once his friends start dropping out.

I guess people like parent @ 19 can call me a coward for not taking up the issue with the national organization but as I've never seen evidence of their intolerance at our local level, it's hard to feel like I need to pull my son out of a group that we get to do a lot of fun things with, in order to strike a blow against a group that has nothing to do with us.

My son knows my feelings on tolerance; we had that conversation after he met my cousin and his husband, back in MA.

Posted by Peter F | March 28, 2008 10:02 AM

Peter F, I understand that you think you are doing no harm, but remember that every dollar that your troop gives to BSA via dues, uniforms, books, all goes towards discriminating against others. It's their policy and by being part of their group you ARE supporting it. Saying nothing while the group YOU belong to does something to someone else makes you a participant, i.e. Germans, Jews.

Posted by Former Scout | March 28, 2008 12:31 PM

Um, did you just call me a Good German for letting my kid earn some beads for whittling and identifying plants in the woods? If some of the Scout troops somewhere else are excluding people like me (atheist) or my cousin (gay) from their organization someplace, I am as bad as they are by loose association?

The federal taxes I pay are used to spray depleted uranium across the cradle of civilization and to torture broken human beings to death in Cuban prisons. Should I renounce my citizenship immediately and move to Canada rather than be party to such horrors?

Posted by Peter F | March 28, 2008 1:28 PM

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