Tuesday, December 29, 2009

LAPD drops ties with the Boy Scouts

from Box Turtle Bulletin
by Timothy Kincaid

In 2000, the Boy Scouts of America went to the US Supreme Court to defend their right to exclude members based solely on their sexual orientation. And since that time, they have insisted that all scout troops – even those in which the community, the scout leaders, and the parents wish otherwise – expel and exclude gay scouts and leaders. They also exclude atheists and agnostics.

I support their right to do so. Generally, I believe that membership based social organizations should be free to grant or deny membership based on whatever arbitrary or ridiculous reason they wish, even if it be odious and hateful. Even if I believe the policy to be ill conceived and harmful.

But they should not do so with my tax dollars.

And, increasingly, the Scouts have been discovering that the cost of their exclusionary policy is not an inconsequential one. There has been a steady stream of cities that have severed ties or revoked special privileges which the organization had enjoyed. No longer does the City Berkeley provide free berthing to the Sea Scouts. The City of San Diego revoked its $1 lease on a portion of Balboa Park, and the City of Philadelphia evicted the Scouts from a city owned building.

Of course, those who demand their right to discriminate often are outraged and indignant when they think that they are on the other side of the equation. So the Boy Scouts have sued in each of these cases, claiming that revoking their special privileges and taxpayer sponsored handouts is (you saw it coming) discrimination against them.

Yet with each passing year, they are discovering that local governments and institutions give less leeway to the Scouts. Their blind insistence on defining themselves as a religious organization free to disassociate the ungodly also puts them at conflict with establishment of religion issues.

And, frankly, more and more, their pigheadedness is seen as distasteful. Civic institutions don’t want to put gay elected officials or employees in the uncomfortable position of having to deal with a group that considers them not to be “clean” or “morally straight”. And it feels burdensome of the Scouts to put them in this position.

So this organization, once revered and considered an integral part of American youth, is increasingly give the heave-ho. And the latest to sever connections with the Scouts is the Los Angeles Police Department (Daily Breeze).

Since 1962 the Explorers, a program for youth who wish to become police officers, has been affiliated with the Boy Scouts. That will end on Friday; the Police Commission has voted to change the name of the program and cease using the Scout affiliated insurance service (the LAPD has administered the program itself for the past decade).

Commissioner Robert Saltzman, who is openly gay, said that because he cannot support the Boy Scouts, he has invested a lot of time to ensure the new youth program is “as good or – I’m confident – better than the program it replaces.”

“The Boy Scouts are clear that they discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity and religion, and the result of that is I could not be active on the Boy Scouts,” Saltzman said.

None of this is a happy resolution. The Scouts are weaker, the program is less respected, ad hoc solutions are pasted about in attempts to keep programs operating, and children are now less connected to their local governments. All the good that comes from connecting with nature, teaching values by example, efforts for self improvement and a call to selflessness has now been tainted by exclusion, discrimination, and recrimination.

All so that some ultra-religious administrators can self-righteously declare that only good god-fearing heterosexuals can be associated with their organization. Oh, and all this sadness and destruction is justified because their bigotry is “for the children”.
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