Tag Archives: Boy Scouts of America

Bigot of the Week Award: May 24, E.W. Jackson

24 May
Bigot of the Week

Bigot of the Week

Congratulations Virginia Republicans! Your nominee for Governor, current Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, is a pretty nasty piece of work in his own right (aggressively anti-choice, virulently homophobic, suing to destroy the Affordable Care Act, trying to gut the EPA’s powers…) Somehow, you managed to find a candidate for Lieutenant Governor who is at least as horrifying.

Minister-turned-politician E.W. Jackson is charm free and worse. After decades as a Democrat, he made headlines a few years ago with a very public refutation of the party and a baffling insistence that the GOP was “better for the black community.” (Bonus facts: he called support of Democrats “slavish devotion” and predicted a black landslide for Romney — what a madcap!) A Baptist bishop and founder of Exodus Faith Ministries, Jackson turned to politics and founded the creepily-named S.T.A.N.D. (Staying True To America’s National Destiny — he and Michele Bachmann must be close friends with the way they re-write history). He ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for Senate in 2012; last week the state GOP convention gave him the nod for Virginia’s second-in-command.

Jackson has a rabidly homophobic history — that obsession makes you wonder what’s in his closet behind those well-pressed bishop’s robes; could it be Marcus Bachmann? Just a couple of choice quotes:

Their minds are perverted, they’re frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally and they see everything through the lens of homosexuality. When they talk about love they’re not talking about love, they’re talking about homosexual sex.

Homosexuality is a horrible sin, it poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few things that we can think of… It’s an authoritarian, totalitarian spirit.

He has also repeatedly compared Planned Parenthood to the KKK. He calls the national Democratic platform “worthy of the Antichrist” and calls Democratic leaders “slave masters” for assuming that African Americans might actually vote in their own best interests. (Another fun fact: Jackson defends the 3/5 black citizenship clause in the original U.S. Constitution as “anti-slavery.” Isn’t he witty?) Sadly, he reminds me of Clarence Thomas.  The lateral oppression be bears down on the black community is nothing less than shameful!  Am I the only one that sees his internalized racism?   Does it feel as though the GOP is tokenizing Jackson?  Just asking.

Virginia is a reddish state, but in statewide elections the Democrats have been trending. (Obama took the commonwealth in 2012.) Let’s hope reason prevails and the Cuccinelli-Jackson 19th Century Hate Parade fails to launch.

Dishonorable mention this week goes to those scamps at the Boy Scouts of America. They surely hoped to get some better press yesterday when they voted not to consider gay scouts completely disgusting. Unfortunately, by saying vaguely that they won’t deny membership “on the basis of sexual orientation alone” they give local troops plenty of leeway to oust gay scouts for any number of imagined transgressions. More significantly, by refusing to even consider allowing LGBT adults to serve in any leadership capacity, the Scouts play into the disgusting gay=pedophile myth. Rather than embrace equality, they cowardly BSA has created a confusing mishmash worthy of DADT, set up gay scouts to fail, and embraced ignorance and prejudice. That’s quite the achievement — is there a badge for that?

Bigot of the Week Award: April 26, Steve Kush

26 Apr
Bigot of the Week

Bigot of the Week

I get many nominations for Bigot of the Week and have grown accustomed to the ugliness that is included in the stories I read. This week’s winner — courtesy of my friend Jennifer Carey — was so odious, however, that I had to stop reading until I could contain my rage.

Steve Kush executive director of the Bernalillo County Republican Party in New Mexico showed his true colors after a public hearing on raising the minimum wage in the county. When a 19-year-old woman representing Working America testified in favor of the higher wage, Kush tweeted

Nice hat Working America chick but damn you are a radical bitch.

Really?! Where do I even start to unpack all the hate, misogyny (a very big word for our Steve), classism, and ageism? Simply stating her concern for those barely earning a living wage at a public hearing makes her a radical? Using the word “chick” (not to mention his other language)?  Are we back in the 1950s?  Clearly, Kush attended the Clarence Thomas School Charm School, or would that be Charm Free School? As of April 26, Kush has offered no apology and remains isolated in his white, heterosexist, male, privilege — further pulling the GOP down into an abysmal time machine of shame.

Dishonorable mention this week goes to the Boy Scouts of America for adding “clueless” to “homophobic” on their list of Demerit Badges.

no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.

This plan would retain the ban on gay adults serving in any capacity. That means gay youth are being told they’ll be tolerated as long as it’s just a phase. If they don’t grow out of it, out the door they go. The word “alone” at the end of this tepid mini-reversal is also troubling. It would clearly allow individual troops to punish out scouts for “being disruptive” simply for being who they are. In an attempt to look accepting (are they using the GOP’s rebranding experts?), the BSA has crafted a meaningless compromise that makes Don’t Ask Don’t Tell look like civil rights genius. I do wonder when all of these straight scouts, both adult and youth, made the decision to be straight?

Hooray for the Boy Scouts? Not so fast…

30 Jan
Too good to be true?

Too good to be true?

Less than six months after the Boy Scouts of America aggressively reiterated their anti-gay membership policy, the organization seems to have had a change of heart, or heart facsimile. In a media statement quietly linked from the homepage of their website, the Scouts present a brief statement about their membership policy. On the surface, it seems like a strong step forward.

Currently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation.

That vague promise — pending a closed-door conversation like the one that reaffirmed the gay ban in July — has the media all a-tremble. Even major LGBT advocacy organizations are treating this statement like a major change in policy.

Sadly, I am skeptical. Beyond the less than emphatic phrase  “discussing potentially,” the whole thing feels like a desperate media grab rather than a sincere change of heart. Let’s look at another important part of the statement.

This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs. BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families.

“The best needs of their families?” Can you smell the hypocrisy? For decades the Scouts have bullied any local chapter that tried to be fully inclusive into toeing the national line. Suddenly, a patchwork of gay-might-be-okay troops that makes Don’t Ask Don’t Tell look like sound policy is perfectly acceptable. Rather than take a clear, inclusive stand, the so-called leaders of the Boy Scouts of America are lapsing into a laissez-faire confusion, or worse yet a “separate but equal policy”. It’s pretty clear that the motivation is greed.

Even before last July’s shocking affirmation of bigotry, the Scouts were bleeding money and support. Many companies were refusing to fund a blatantly bigoted group, and many local governments were voiding contracts with the Scouts as violations of non-discrimination policies. Feeling the financial pinch, the BSA is looking at their policy afresh. Rather than say that discrimination is wrong, however, they are afraid of the many conservative — often church-affiliated — groups that run local chapters. Fearing a reverse backlash, they hope to have their gays and hate them too.

Don’t get me wrong, progress is welcome. But after so many years of telling gay boys and leaders that they are unwelcome and unfit, trying to strike a muddled balance just won’t cut it. Forcing parents, scouts, local supporters, and sponsors to navigate a gay-might-be-okay morass doesn’t fit well with scout law.

A Scout is: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, Reverent.

None of those adjectives reconcile with this clearly self-serving discussion of potentially reversing some policies. As long as there are other options available, parents who truly want their children to learn, share, and grow should continue to steer clear of the Boy Scouts of America.

Hero of the Week Award: December 14, the Merck Foundation

14 Dec
Hero of the Week

Hero of the Week

This week another organization adds itself resoundingly to the chorus opposing the Boy Scouts of America’s discrimination and bigotry. Thank you to my friend and fighter for social justice, Ani Allison for inspiring me to write this weeks’ HWA. The Merck Company Foundation has a long history of giving and philanthropy. It has also been a major supporter of the Scouts, recognizing “the fine work that the BSA has done in communities throughout the country.”

As they reviewed giving for 2013, however, they realized that core BSA values are inconsistent with Foundation principles. As a result, they are suspending all funding and related activities.

The Merck Foundation believes that it is critical to honor and support a foundational policy of diversity and inclusion in all funding decisions…We cannot continue to provide support to an organization with a policy that is contrary to one of our core beliefs.

Emphasizing the importance of this decision, the Foundation made it clear that it is withholding more than dollars:

The decision to suspend support applies to direct funding from the Merck Foundation, the matching of gifts from Merck employees, and paid time off for volunteering.

Officials tied the decision directly to the Scouts’ reiteration of its homophobic antigay stand earlier this year. Other major funders like Intel and United Parcel Service have already withdrawn at least direct financial support.

As a side note, official hate group the Family Research Council have severed their ties with UPS over the BSA decision just as holiday shipping time got underway. As you make your shipping decisions, remember to support equality and thank UPS with your business.

Honorable mention goes to Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Rice has served the country ably and well. She was on President Obama’s short list to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton as Secretary of State. Sadly, a group of angry Republican obstructionists led by John McCain (R – Get Off My Lawn) vowed to fight her nomination. Yes, McCain is such a good judge of what is good for the country–Sarah Palin–enough said.  As a result, Rice has put country ahead of self — again — and withdrawn from consideration, writing to the President

If nominated, I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly—to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities. […] That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country.

What a loss for America, once again thanks to the Pseudopatriot Senator. Does McCain have no sense of decency?

REMINDER: Hero of the Year nominations are still coming in. Please submit your suggestions by December 23 so we can celebrate the finest five heroes!

Boy Scouts: Molesters Welcome but Gays Need Not Apply

9 Aug

More secrets…less safety

The Boy Scouts of America are having more problems with their hypothetical ethics. The Scouts have consistently relied on a “moral code” defense to explain their refusal to allow gay Scouts or leaders. That same reasoning was trotted out again last month when the organization’s super-secret committee unanimously approved maintaining this bigoted ban. Sadly, the same reasoning doesn’t seem to apply to sexual predators and child molesters. Despite the existence of a super-secret “perversion file” (the Scouts do like their secrets, don’t they?), many men ejected from leadership roles for abuse later return to the organization.

Not unlike the Catholic Church, the Scouts have had a number of high-profile abuse cases in recent years. They have steadfastly refused to open their files, maintaining that the secrecy is what makes them effective. That’s proving a curiously bad arguement. A high-profile case in Oregon — in which the abused former Scout won nearly $20 million — resulted in court decision that the files cannot be kept secret. Prior to the release of those files, the Los Angeles Times used similar information from court cases in California to test the Scouts claim that the secret files protect young Scouts. The paper reported the results of that test this week.

[The] review of more than 1,200 files dating from 1970 to 1991 found more than 125 cases across the country in which men allegedly continued to molest Scouts after the organization was first presented with detailed allegations of abusive behavior. Predators slipped back into the program by falsifying personal information or skirting the registration process. Others were able to jump from troop to troop around the country thanks to clerical errors, computer glitches or the Scouts’ failure to check the blacklist.

In some cases, officials failed to document reports of abuse in the first place, letting offenders stay in the organization until new allegations surfaced. In others, officials documented abuse but merely suspended the accused leader or allowed him to continue working with boys while on “probation.” In at least 50 cases, the Boy Scouts expelled suspected abusers, only to discover later that they had reentered the program and were accused of molesting again.

One scoutmaster was expelled in 1970 for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy in Indiana. Even after being convicted of the crime, he went on to join two troops in Illinois between 1971 and 1988. He later admitted to molesting more than 100 boys, was convicted of the sexual assault of a Scout in 1989 and was sentenced to 100 years in prison, according to his file and court records. In 1991, a Scout leader convicted of abusing a boy in Minnesota returned to his old troop — right after getting out of jail.

Bill Dworkin, a retired L.A. police expert on child sexual abuse who served as a witness in the Oregon case summed things up succinctly: “Basically, there were no controls.”

So, also like the Catholics, the Scouts demonize gays while allowing predators to move from troop to troop. Relying on faulty secrecy and an outdated “moral” stand that does far more harm than good, this organization allows children to suffer while pretending to protect them. Looks like the Boy Scouts need a pretty thorough overhaul before they can consider themselves “morally straight.”

Bigot of the Week Award: July 20, Boy Scouts of America

20 Jul

Bigot of the Week

Thank you to my friend and LGBT ally Jennifer Carey for inspiring me to write this article. This week the Boy Scouts of American burrowed all the way back to the 1950s to embrace a false America and ignore the rights of an entire segment of the U.S. population. The organization, aptly founded in the waning of the Victorian Era, opted to maintain their restriction against LGBT Scouts and Scout leaders. The Scouts’ national spokesman, Deron (I’m afraid of the gays) Smith, told The Associated Press that an 11-member special committee, formed discreetly by top Scout leaders in 2010, came to the conclusion that the exclusion policy “is absolutely the best policy.” REALLY? Best for whom?

The decision was unanimous and was announced by the group’s media wing. It cited parent concerns and tradition as key factors in upholding bias.

The committee included a diversity of perspectives and opinions. The review included forthright and candid conversation and extensive research and evaluations – both from within Scouting and from outside the organization. The committee’s work and conclusion is that this policy reflects the beliefs and perspectives of the BSA’s members, thereby allowing Scouting to remain focused on its mission and the work it is doing to serve more youth.

I don’t think the Scouts know what most of those words mean. Diversity? Candid? Research? Service? If having a hate-the-gays tea with Tony Perkins and Maggie Gallagher fits those words, maybe. How else could they have come to such an odious conclusion a decade into the 21st Century? The review was shrouded in secrecy. None of the panelists were named publicly, the meetings were secret, and the process was never disclosed. The lack of transparency reinforces the image of a secretive group uninterested in the nation which it hypothetically serves. For a group that purports to create tomorrow’s leaders, hiding behind “beliefs and perspectives of … members” is cowardly at best. Exactly what type of leaders are they hoping to foster?

Some adult Scouts had put pressure on leadership. Eagle Scout and journalist Naka Nathaniel renounced his rank in a public statement last month. Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, the Iowa college student with two lesbian mothers who famously testified for marriage equality, collected tens of thousands of signatures in support of a policy change. He delivered them to the Scouts’ annual meeting to no avail.

Given the improvements for LGBT rights in the past decade, many were hopeful that the Scouts would recognize their error. Protections against sexual orientation discrimination have increased significantly. Marriage equality exists in six states and the District of Columbia; many more have civil union laws. President Obama’s recent support of marriage equality has helped shift the national conversation, and recent polls show all-time high support for gay rights across the country. While the Scouts re-endorsed discrimination, the Episcopal Church adopted a liturgy for same-sex unions and approved ordination of transgender priests. Overall support for transgender rights has increased, and the fully inclusive Girl Scouts accept lesbian and transgender members and leaders.  Even the founding branch of the Boy Scouts, Britain’s Scout Association, refuses to discriminate on sexual orientation. The Scouts have turned a deaf ear and a bigoted blind eye to the conversation.

More importantly, the Boy Scouts have sent a dangerous message to America’s youth. By maintaining the ban they reinforce two horrific stereotypes: that gay kids are somehow of lesser value and that LGBT adults are somehow worse stewards of youth. Study upon study shows that the sexual orientation of an adult is not a factor in abuse of children — just ask Penn State or the Catholic Church. More significantly, in the wake of the worst year for LGBT-based bullying (and consequent suicides) on record, the Scouts have told bullies that they are justified and kids who differ from “acceptable” norms that they deserve what they get. The Scouting oath includes

To help other people at all times

It’s a shame the Boy Scouts of America have chosen to return to their Victorian roots rather than live up to their principles. Is there a merit badge for hypocrisy?

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