Congress to Boys Scouts: Stop DiscriminationFeb 2nd, 2010 | By Main Contributor | Category: House of Representatives
Gays and lesbians are forbidden from volunteering or being a part of the Boy Scouts of America as a leader or as a youth member. The organization also discriminates against atheists and anyone who does not believe in a god or gods. Girls are also excluded from the organization.
In recent years the U.S. Mint produced commemorative Boy Scouts coins as a 3.5 million dollar fundraiser for the Boy Scouts of America. The BSA gets federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The U.S. military has been supporting the Boy Scouts’ Jamboree since the 1930s with contractors and $2 million a year in Defense Department funding. State and local governments also charge the Boy Scouts $1 in rent for buildings to host their meetings and events that would cost any other organization thousands to rent. In 2005, the Republicans passed the unconstitutional Support Our Scouts Act to stop lawsuits from preventing the Boy Scouts from receiving special rent rates from local governments, rewarding their discriminatory practices. Receiving this type of federal funding should legally bar them from discrimination, but the government continues to fund the organization.
U.S. Representatives Gary Ackerman (D-NY) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) sent a letter to the national offices of the Boy Scouts of America to encourage the organization to stop discriminating against gays and lesbians. The Representatives sent the letter on behalf of Cate and Elizabeth Wirth who were told they can not volunteer for their son’s Cub Scout group because they would “push their lifestyle on the boys” because they are lesbians. The letter was signed by 26 members of Congress. No Republicans were involved in creating or signing the letter.
Dear Mr. Mazzuca:
We write in response to the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) recent rejection of Cate and Elizabeth Wirth, two mothers of a Scout, who applied to serve as parent volunteers. We call on the Boy Scouts to end its policy of discrimination and exclusion based solely on sexual orientation.
Regrettably, the current, discriminatory policy of the Boy Scouts of America has denied opportunities for young scouts, dedicated community-oriented citizens, and loving parents. Most recently, as reported on December 30, 2009, Cate and Elizabeth Wirth, both legal mothers of their 10 year old son, Dylan, were turned down as volunteer Cub Scout leaders after the local Boy Scouts District Director cited the national policy of the BSA regarding lesbian and gay volunteers, and suggested that the Wirths would “push their lifestyle on the boys.” We would think the Boy Scouts would encourage all parents to take an active involvement in their children’s Scouting life. Cate and Elizabeth had volunteered before without problem, such that the Boy Scouts happily accepted their service again until learning of their sexual orientation.
For a century, the Boy Scouts have united communities, instilled the value of public service, and encouraged civic participation among America’s youth. Congress has repeatedly recognized the importance of the Boy Scouts in our communities with numerous honors, including a Congressional charter and, most recently, a resolution expressing support for February 8, 2010 as “Boy Scouts of America Day”. As you celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America, it is long past time that the Boy Scouts finally provide the opportunity for all Scouts, Leaders, and volunteers, to share in the joys of Scouting, regardless of sexual orientation.
This policy of discrimination and exclusion is contrary to the Boy Scouts own stated values. According to Scout law, “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” We fail to see how it is friendly, courteous, or kind to bar loving parents from volunteering for their child’s Cub Scout pack just because of who they love. Furthermore, it is difficult to imagine how singling out the parents of one Scout for exclusion is an example of Scout loyalty.
As deeply troubling as the exclusionary policy is, the message that the policy sends is perhaps most damaging. The Boy Scouts are teaching America’s youth at impressionable ages that lesbians and gays are to be excluded because they are different, and not “morally straight” as per the Boy Scouts’ official stated position.
Furthermore, it is particularly disappointing that an organization that prides itself on inclusion and diversity remains committed to a policy that is anything but. Again, according to the Scout handbook, a Scout should “look beyond the differences that might separate you from others and accept them for who they are.”
We urge you to honor the Boy Scouts’ own stated values and reverse this exclusionary and discriminatory policy by providing the opportunity for Cate and Elizabeth Wirth and all other interested Scouts, Leaders, and volunteers to participate, regardless of sexual orientation.