Philadelphia Boy Scouts Rock

From CNN.com -

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (AP) — The nation’s third largest Boy Scout council expanded its nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation, defying the national group’s anti-gay stance.

The board of the Cradle of Liberty Council, which has 87,000 members in Philadelphia and two neighboring counties, voted unanimously this month to make the change after discussions with gay activists and other community leaders that began two years ago.

“We disagree with the national stance, and we’re not comfortable with the stated national policy,” council Chairman David H. Lipson Jr. said.

Yay scouts!

UPDATE: Oh, well, it didn’t last. See comment #5 below, and also this more recent post.

This entry posted in Site and Admin Stuff. Bookmark the permalink. 

115 Responses to Philadelphia Boy Scouts Rock

  1. 101
    RonF says:

    Well, some discrimination is wrong (say, among people on the basis of race). And some discrimination is fine (say, among clothing based on the colors or fabrics you like). Whether or not discrimination in choosing youth leaders on the basis of their homosexual vs. heterosexual practices is O.K. is in dispute. I’m sure you feel it’s wrong, based on your comment. A lot of other people think it’s O.K. I don’t think it’s within the scope of the public schools to teach either viewpoint. Neither does the Federal legislature, which is where the rider in the Leave No Child Behind act that prevents public schools from discriminating (there’s that word again) among organizations on the basis of their membership policies when granting access to use of their property.

  2. 102
    mousehounde says:

    Well, some discrimination is wrong (say, among people on the basis of race). And some discrimination is fine (say, among clothing based on the colors or fabrics you like).

    RonF, do you truly equate discrimination as defined as “unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudice ” with discriminating as defined by “showing or indicating careful judgment and discernment especially in matters of taste “? Do you really not see a difference?

    Whether or not discrimination in choosing youth leaders on the basis of their homosexual vs. heterosexual practices is O.K. is in dispute.

    You clearly have a lot invested in BSA, it is very obvious it is dear to your heart. I understand that. But how can you defend a group that acknowledges that it discriminates based sexual orientation or religion, or the lack of religion ? What are you teaching these young men in the BSA? It seems to me you are teaching them they are better than other folks. It seems to me that you (the BSA, not you in particular, though perhaps by participating you are..) are teaching a whole generation of young men that some groups are OK, but some are not. And that is OK to treat those other groups differently and to exclude them. And that is just wrong.

    I think that either the BSA should be disbanded and replaced by an organization that will include every boy, or it should reorganize so that it does not continue to teach that discrimination is good thing by allowing any boy that wants to join to join, and by allowing scout masters to lead who are gay or non religious.

    But I don’t think we will ever agree on this, so thank you kindly for your time.

  3. 103
    Robert says:

    I think that either the BSA should be disbanded and replaced by an organization that will include every boy, or it should reorganize…

    Who died and made you Queen?

    If you want to create or support an organization that does what you want to see done, Godspeed to you.

    Demanding that organizations which reject your values surrender their own beliefs and go away, or reorganize to suit your preferences, is megalomaniacal. Be as convinced as you can be as to the righteousness of what you believe – as we are all entitled to be convinced – but be aware that your strength of belief is immaterial out here, in the world where we have rights too.

    It seems to me that you are showing a level of cultural entitlement and demand that you abjure as hateful when it comes from others.

  4. 104
    RonF says:

    RonF, do you truly equate discrimination as defined as “unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudice ” with discriminating as defined by “showing or indicating careful judgment and discernment especially in matters of taste “?

    No. But then, I also don’t automatically equate making a choice of who will provide the proper moral leadership for one’s children based on their sexual behavior with “unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudice”.

    “But how can you defend a group that acknowledges that it discriminates based sexual orientation or religion, or the lack of religion ? What are you teaching these young men in the BSA?”

    What these young men are being taught is that a) there are proper modes of sexual behavior, and those who do not follow those modes should not be leaders, and b) that moral codes should be based on a belief in some kind of supernatural force that holds us accountable for our actions in life.

    “It seems to me you are teaching them they are better than other folks. It seems to me that you (the BSA, not you in particular, though perhaps by participating you are..) are teaching a whole generation of young men that some groups are OK, but some are not. And that is OK to treat those other groups differently and to exclude them. And that is just wrong.”

    It seems to me that what we are teaching these young men and women is that certain modes of behavior are better than others; that some are fit as examples to emulate and others are not. Behaviors like “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, …” etc. are such. We are teaching them to emulate the good behaviors and avoid the bad ones and the people who exhibit them. That’s not wrong. That’s right. In fact, that’s essential.

    Let’s say that a married woman was a Scout leader, and became openly involved in an adulterous affair. She doesn’t try to hide it, everyone knows about it. Should she be a leader for Scouts? It would not be surprising that the parents and unit committee of most units would say “No.” She is breaking a moral code and is exhibiting behavior that the children should not emulate.

    Now, you will doubtless object to the equating of adultery with homosexual behavior. Fair enough. That’s why I favor “local option”, where the units get to choose whether those two kinds of things should or should not be equated. But a viewpoint that does equate the two is not just blind predjudice; it’s a legitimate viewpoint that has to be respected by law just as much as the one that does not equate the two when it comes to the public sphere.

  5. 105
    VK says:

    What these young men are being taught is that a) there are proper modes of sexual behavior, and those who do not follow those modes should not be leaders, and b) that moral codes should be based on a belief in some kind of supernatural force that holds us accountable for our actions in life

    Ah, the value of pushing properganda at the young.

  6. 106
    RonF says:

    Ah, the value of pushing properganda at the young.

    Was the mispelling inadvertent, or am I missing a point?

    So you think that teaching children that some behaviors are good and that others are bad; that there is such a thing as a good moral code; and that they should strive to emulate good behavior and avoid bad behavior is propaganda? Me, I call it responsible parenting. All behaviors are not equal. All moral codes are not equal.

  7. 107
    Ampersand says:

    I certainly don’t object to teaching children that some behaviors are good and others are bad. The debate is over the specifics of what is taught, not the general idea of teaching good from bad.

    For example, I think that discrimination against homosexuals is bad. I think that teaching children by example to discriminate against homosexuals, as the BSA does, is evil. It’s sick, bigoted, hateful, and it does real damage to real children. Just because something is legal doesn’t make it right.

  8. 108
    Sailorman says:

    RonF,

    Just to narrow this down a tad:

    Are you claiming that the BSA policy is actually nondiscriminatory?

    Are you claiming that it is not the type of discrimination which violates our laws?

    Or are you generally disputing the pplication of those laws, for other reasons?

    I don’t have a problem with the BSA’s existence per se. I don’t LIKE the BSA much, but hey–there are a lot of groups with political views that I find somewhat repugnant. BSA is just one of those groups.

    My protests stem from legal grounds: If the BSA is discriminating (which I believe it is) then it should not be able to get public funds which are, commonly, reserved for nondiscriminating groups. That is, unless it passes the appropriate Consitutional tests (which are pretty impossible to pass).

    In other words, pay to play: If you want those “we can choose our own members!” privileges that accrue from being a private organization, stop scarfing at the public trough.

    How to you address that inconsistency?

  9. 109
    Robert says:

    Sailorman, the Boy Scouts do not receive public funds. So I’m not sure where the inconsistency comes from.

    If you are using the “public funds” rubric to include things like letting Scout troops use school facilities for meetings and the like, I believe this is covered under public accommodation laws. As far as I know, there is no law that says groups which have discriminatory practices are barred from using public facilities. My impression of the cases is that public facilities either have to be open to any private group, or closed to all private groups, regardless of how well or poorly any particular group does at mirroring the state entity’s discimination preferences.

    As for discrimination violating our laws, since you speak broadly I assume you are referring to Federal laws. There are, as far as I know, no cases or Federal statutes recognizing sexual orientation or preference as a protected class. So again, not sure what you’re saying, here. (As Barry notes, the Scouts’ discriminatory practices may be morally repugntant to some individuals, but they aren’t illegal.) There are no laws of the sort that you think are being violated.

  10. 110
    RonF says:

    Amp:

    Just because something is legal doesn’t make it right.

    Absolutely. I will add this as well; just because something is wrong doesn’t mean there should be a law against it.

    Sailorman:

    “Are you claiming that the BSA policy is actually nondiscriminatory?”

    Nope. The BSA discriminates against open homosexuals and atheists as members.

    Are you claiming that it is not the type of discrimination which violates our laws?

    Yes. The type of discrimination that the BSA practices has been supported by law and upheld as legal at the highest levels of our legislative and judiciary branches. It may violate some state and local laws, but sanctions against the BSA on the basis of such laws have failed when they have reached the Supreme Court.

    Or are you generally disputing the application of those laws, for other reasons?

    I’m not sure what you mean by that.

    I don’t have a problem with the BSA’s existence per se. I don’t LIKE the BSA much, but hey–there are a lot of groups with political views that I find somewhat repugnant. BSA is just one of those groups.

    The BSA does not hold political views. It does not take any political positions. They hold a moral position that one political party favors and the other opposes, but that does not make it a political position. It is a moral position.

    My protests stem from legal grounds: If the BSA is discriminating (which I believe it is) then it should not be able to get public funds which are, commonly, reserved for nondiscriminating groups. That is, unless it passes the appropriate Consitutional tests (which are pretty impossible to pass).

    I’d agree that most, if not all public funds should not be available (and probably legally are not available) to organizations that illegally discriminate. Whether it is not legal for an organization that legally discriminates to have access to public funds is an entirely different matter. So far, it’s been found that such organizations (such as the BSA) do have the right to have access to public funds.

  11. 111
    RonF says:

    The debate is over the specifics of what is taught,

    I was reacting to the use of the word “propaganda”. You are quite right, the debate is the specific teachings and actions of the BSA with regard to homosexuals and atheists.

    Mind you, at no point in my time with the BSA as either youth or adult have I ever discussed, taught, or heard taught to the kids that homosexual behavior is wrong, or that atheists are immoral. The topic of sexuality never comes up at all in any of the work we do; the one or two times I’ve been asked about it (always during a one-on-one Scoutmaster conference, not in a group setting), I’ve told the Scout that he should ask and listen to his parents and religious leader on the topic. As far as atheism goes, again we never discuss it; we just teach the kids that “On my honor, I’ll do my best to do my Duty to God and my country; …”, and that “A Scout is … reverent.” It’s fair game to ask a Scout during a Board of Review “What do you think your Duty to God is”, or “What do you think Reverent means?” But the whole concept of atheism is never covered.

    You have to wonder how the kids would have awareness that the BSA does not allow homosexual members if not from the publicity of court cases. There aren’t that many homosexual parents looking to register as leaders where they’d have to explain to their kid why they couldn’t sign up.

  12. 112
    RonF says:

    For example, I think that discrimination against homosexuals is bad. I think that teaching children by example to discriminate against homosexuals, as the BSA does, is evil. It’s sick, bigoted, hateful, and it does real damage to real children.

    That’s your opinion, and you are welcome to it. The example is pretty limited, mind you. Where I live, anyway, it’s not like the kids look around and say, “Hey, where are all the gays and lesbians?” But in some highly urbanized areas of the country, I imagine that it would become more obvious.

    There are all kinds of opinions on this. Some people hold to your opinion. Others think exactly the opposite. Many, many people hold a middle ground; they are against discrimination against homosexuals in employment, housing, etc., etc., but when it comes to contact with their kids they have a much different opinion. Some probably figure they have greater potential for child molestation (a viewpoint that the BSA officially opposes, BTW), others probably think that kids will tend to view experimentation with homosexual activity more acceptable should they see such an example.

    I figure that the BSA has no business getting involved in the question, just as they got out of being involved in the question of whether or not a groups of boys should have a female leader. I would like to see this removed as a question of National policy. But I have to admit that I don’t see it as a wrong so strong that I should quit Scouting. I do rather suspect that there are a lot more Scouters like me than there are Scouters who are anti-gay to the point that they think the BSA’s policy is right on target. But the BSA’s organizational model means that they are beholden to the sponsors, so as long as a 1/3 or a 1/2 of the sponsors say “No open gays or lesbians”, it will be impossible for this to change.

    This is where the ACLU’s suit against public school sponsorship of BSA units actually hurt this cause. By driving sponsorships out of the schools, the ACLU pulled a liberalizing influence out of the BSA. That suit was not decided on the merits, BTW; the BSA pulled out voluntarily because it would have been untenable for all the school districts to get involved in legal battles on the issue. The suits were going to be brought against the school districts, not the BSA. I think it was bad strategy on the ACLU’s part, since the BSA still gets to use the schools (my units meet in schools, for example).

    The BSA’s history shows that it follows social changes; it does not lead them. That’s because it needs the support of other organizations to survive. Change comes from them.

    If people wanted to bring change to Scouting, the fastest way would be to found a similar organization promoting duty to God and country (or just country?), others and oneself (in that order), patriotic values, service, leadership, outdoor activities, etc., where sexual orientation was not a issue for membership criteria and start promoting it’s activities. It should have the same access to public facilities, etc. as the BSA does. Of course, that would require a lot more work developing programs, raising money, creating materials, performing training, etc., than it does to bring (and lose) lawsuits against the BSA. But I think the end result would be actual change, and faster, if in fact the general population supports this change.

  13. 113
    Sailorman says:

    Sorry: I got sloppy. By “public funds” I mean the fact that the BSA appears (to me) to be obtaining “non standard” benefits that go above and beyond those given to everyone else.

    But I gtg, hate to leave in the middle of this intersting discussion; back tuesday i think.

  14. 114
    Robert says:

    The BSA does have some good relationships with the government. However, their good relationships are not available exclusively to the BSA, or to groups like it.

    In terms of access to public areas and facilities, similar access is generally available to any suitably constituted body. Form the Sailorman Scouts as your own private youth army, and ask to use the gym for your pack meetings, and the answer will be “yes”. That’s ordinary access that we’re all pretty much entitled to, within the reasonable confines of day to day availability of facilities. So that the BSA gets this is not an instance of a special “non standard” benefits.

    There have been occasional publicized cases of Scout troops or councils getting things that seem above and beyond. Sometimes this represents a genuine abuse of someone’s discretion. Other times (as in the harbor access case) it’s actually an instance where the Scouts and a local government made a deal (“you bring us 10,000 pounds of building materials and we’ll give you a special access pass to the resulting facility”). Some of those deals may have been overly generous; I’m not sure that’s really the Scouts’ problem, though.

    The Scouts are like every other organization on the planet: they have some values and beliefs which some people find objectionable. It is distressingly unsurprising to see the low regard that some people here seem to have for the idea that people with “disapproved” points of view nonetheless have a right to exist, to exist with freedom of conscience. (And reassuringly comforting to find other people saying “I don’t like them but…”)

  15. 115
    RonF says:

    Sorry: I got sloppy. By “public funds” I mean the fact that the BSA appears (to me) to be obtaining “non standard” benefits that go above and beyond those given to everyone else.

    Well, then, if you want to further this line of debate, perhaps you can give examples of these benefits. Because I’m not familiar with any such.