Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Scoutmaster Geoffrey McGrath Speaks at Lambda Legal Annual Reception in Seattle

I've been asked to speak, and my prepared remarks are below. Not being used to speaking from written copy I expect what is actually said may differ significantly from the plan! The event is Lambda Legal's Seattle Garden Party 2014, and they will be "serving up some fabulous cocktails and hors d'oeuvres and celebrate an unprecedented year of victories for equality following last summer's striking down of DOMA. Guests will hear updates of Lambda Legal's work on the lovely grounds of Kay Bullitt's Capitol Hill home among friends and supporters." Kevin Cathcart, Lambda Legal's Executive Director, will be there, and Pastor Monica Corsaro will receive an honor on behalf of Rainier Beach United Methodist Church for their courageous stand against the Boy Scouts of America's (BSA) policy excluding openly gay adults from leadership positions.
Thank you for your kind words. Thank you members of the board, and the Seattle Leadership Committee of Lambda Legal for your tireless work and advocacy for our cause, and for the dedicated leadership of each of you, and especially Executive Director Kevin Cathcart. Thank you Senator Jamie Pederson for your call asking the Pastor Monica Corsaro and me to join you here tonight. It came like mana from heaven, like a moist dew in a dry desert, and helps us all to reflect on the work that remains before us; in reaffirming our commitment to build a more just and equal society for ourselves, for our youth, and for the future. Most of all I want to thank my parents, Carl and Muiriel McGrath who are here tonight, and my husband Michael Bolasina, for their love and care and support.

Eric Holder spoke a few weeks ago at a similar event of a period of "unrelenting discrimination, harassment, and prejudice," and of an "era marked by hostility, fear, and isolation." I am here to report that era continues.

That era continues in our town in over 900 youth groups supported in part by directed giving programs via the United Way of King County. And via its refusal to insist that all contractors agree to equal opportunity in employment for LGBT individuals.

That era continues in our town with the ongoing refusal the greatest retailer the world has ever known to address this issue. Based here in our own community, and despite its clear policies to not fund intolerance, Amazon.com's continuing silence gives aid and comfort to an unjust status quo.

That era continues in our town because of the lack of enforcement in our Public Schools, who are infiltrated by an organization that is persistent in its discrimination against LGBT individuals, and in the preservation and perpetuation of of the worst stereotypes, continuing to communicate that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults are unfit to mentor, to teach, and to serve as role models for the leaders of future generations. And refusing to address the needs of LGBT youth for mentorship, nurture specific to their needs, and role models to identify with.

That era continues in our town because the Red Cross refuses to knowingly take our gay blood, and refuses to reform its own policies, practices, and where necessary advocate for needed changes to the law.

Nine hundred youth groups here in our community. Each one a pack, troop, ship, team or post in the Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Each one administered by a straights-only workforce, with its animus-driven discriminatory rules and policies. Each one sponsored by a church, government agency or community group. And In the traditional Boy Scout programs representing 90%, all gay adults who serve are forced into the closet, and cannot serve with dignity, are forced to compromise their integrity, and through their service are forced to participate in this unjust system.

Other United Ways north of us in Snohomish County and Whatcom County refuse to collaborate, while the United Way of King County continues in our town to contract with the Boy Scouts of America through the shell corporation called Learning for Life.

I was speaking with my father last night, talking about the events of the past year. I was struggling to find the successes of our efforts, that I could share with you today. Feeling acutely my personal limitations, and the disappointment that despite our city elder's efforts we were unable to hold the line: Chief Seattle Council refused tell the National Boy Scouts of America that their despicable policy ends here. I hoped that when this crisis developed that our local Chief Seattle Council would hold firm, stand by their decision to found a fully inclusive scout troop, and stand with the values of our city, to show that we in this city and this council are different.

My father told me, "Only good can come of what's happened, and without it having happened the good that must come could not begin." He said, "Speak to your 18 year old self of 31 years ago. Talk across the generations. Because isn't that what you're doing today, and have been doing all year, in bringing inclusive scouting to your neighborhood, and by example to the nation?"

And so I am here to report to you today a great joy in my life, a personal blessing that I hope will in turn bless others:

Thirty-one years ago there was no one I knew; no one in my family, my school, my church or my scout troop, who I knew to be gay. When I was 18 I was completely alone. Completely in the closet--so isolated and afraid of that I could not even think the words, or contemplate the possibility that I my sexual orientation was non-normative.

Today things have changed. Youth come out much earlier on average, and many have good support in their families, neighborhoods, schools and churches. Equal employment opportunity is becoming normative many parts of the nation. Equal marriage is the law of the land in many states, and SCOTUS willing soon in the entire nation. Except for scouting.

Together the pastor and I, our church community and the Rainier Beach neighborhood dared to dream a new dream. In bringing a new youth group to our neighborhood, we envisioned a small part--the smallest part of our effort--to include scouting shedding its discrimination against LGBT participation. We implemented that vision in full partnership with Chief Seattle Council. And when they could not stand up to the foul wind blowing out of Texas, from the National Headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America, we managed the transition to truly a inclusive program that had our back, that would defend, support and nurture all our members.

I stand before you today in a new uniform, different from the one I wore as a child, as a youth, and earlier this year in the BSA. I introduce you to the Baden-Powell Service Association, a traditional scouting organization, part of the international scouting movement. A member of the World Federation of Independent Scouts. Troop 98 of the BSA is reborn as the 98th Rainier Scout Group. Boys and girls scout together in full participation and equal dignity. Our gay parents, and their children are fully embraced. Our straight and gay youth have appropriate role models, and support, guidance and nurturance specific to their needs. We are scouting today with joy and energy, living the scout Law and Promise that Baden-Powell developed over a century ago, and generations of scouts have cherished ever since.

Our transition hasn't been for free--new uniforms and scout handbooks cost money---you can help with that by donating to the youth on your way out. In return you will receive a special commemorative patch.

Lambda Legal and assembled guests, thank you for this recognition, and for drawing attention and helping carry water for so many years on this issue, on the proposition that all are and by rights ought to be equal. Equal in membership, participation and service. Equal in visibility. Equal in dignity.
Individuals wishing to help defray the unexpected costs of re-uniforming our youth, and other costs of implementing scouting in our neighborhood, donations are most welcome, and can be made either by Paypal to the Scoutmaster directly or tax-deductible donations can be made via the church website (see the donate button at http://rainierbeachumc.org/door/). Contact me directly if you have equipment or other items to donate. And thanks for your support!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Real-life Struggles at Scout Camp


Scout camp. We want it to be about fun and skills. New friendships and care-free days and nights. With the only worry being how well the skit that's been worked on all week will be received by fellow campers, and whether the mess hall will cook enough grub for third-helpings. Mostly out of sight and mind are complications, including the complication of discrimination against some campers and some staff members. But for some those complications are constantly just under the surface. And sometimes the complications become the most important thing in their world. To illustrate, here is a concern received from a BSA scout camper, written by a gay kid who works there. A kid who will be forced out of his job this year or next because of the policies reported in the press http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/boy-scouts-cut-age-limit-18-move-will-impact-gays-n110521. His concern demonstrates the deeply complicated position that gay kids are in--where they cannot advocate effectively for themselves, and feel compelled to quash advocacy efforts of others to prevent their own precarious position from unraveling. Here are his words (edited to protect his privacy):
I noted your post on the Facebook page of scout camp where I work. As someone intent on moving equality forward, I know you would like to hear how your efforts are being received by those you are reaching out to, in this case the Camp staff and Directors. I was in the office doing work when the Program Director called me in to talk to me about your post. Yup, the Program Director is gay.
The Camp Director is also gay.

I am employed at this camp and I too am gay. I'm also totally out.

I don't broadcast my being gay out of personal preference, but my director, Scout Executive and the entire camp staff know it. None have taken any action against me. It is commonly discussed here, my boyfriend came to visit openly last week, and all is well. In other words, my scout camp, its staff, and my Council are doing what they can to keep openly gay scouts in the program. 

A official public post against the policy by the camp director is simply impossible at this point as it would accomplish little other than many losing their jobs. While the entire camp staff of 70+ strongly supports equality, your post angered many, and in fact caused many to speak out against, and not in favor of the Scouting equality movement.

In this case, your post did little to nothing to move equality forward. If anything, and I assure you of this, it angered several gay members of our camp staff, isolated many supporters of scouting equality, and overall made them far less positive about scouting equality. It brought us farther from our goal. 
It is the first task of the LGBT youth to do what they must to safely achieve adulthood, accomplishing the normal developmental tasks of all adolescents, and eventually achieve independence and stability. For many this requires living a secret life, or coming out only to a select few trusted peers. Others are more fortunate, and can come out more generally. But youth members of BSA are at significant risk if they should come out, lest their status "become a distraction." And many, as in this case, feel they must align themselves against their own self interest to preserve their place in the hetero-normative culture of the Boy Scouts of America.

The task and responsibility of employees, program and camp directors, and scout executives is different. Their task is to build the program, to make it safe for all participants. To mark out danger areas such as ax yards, swimming holes and rifle ranges in the time-tested ways. And also to be clear about the level of support and defense that their LGBT participants and employees actually have. To not be coy or cagey about it. To be straight about it, and uncomplicated, and to speak the truth. If the truth hurts, then it is on them to make the change. Indeed, it is on each of us, as none of us can escape our responsibility in this.

I wish I could explain to this young man that the support he imagines exists for him at his camp isn't really there, not if it is so fragile that my Facebook rating (who looks at those, anyways?) of the camp he works at is damaged by it. I wish he could see how corrosive the effects of these policies are on the souls of all scouts, and how corrosive it is on the leadership in his council and at his camp. I wish I could help him shake those effects off--help him stand up free of the shackles that bind him, that compel him to speak out in favor of his own silence, and that cause him to be complicit in creating the prison that binds him.

This camp like so many others is run by well meaning people who happen to be gay. This cam like so many others another example of the lack of justification of the anti-gay membership and employment policy, A policy predicated simply on animus from the BSA towards gays, and the inconvenience it causes in their relationships with their religious partners. The problem is the policy, not the personnel. The problem isn't what people wish for or their personal attitudes. It is institutional. Institutional bias is established in practice and policy, and wishing for change doesn't make change. Institutional change requires hard work--the work of individuals and groups, internally and externally, and the engagement of legal systems and other institutions as necessary to end the institutional bias, and corruption it causes.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Unauthorized BPSA Quick Start: Converting Your Non-BPSA Scouts, Guides, or Other Group to a BPSA Group

Introduction

So you’re thinking about taking your unit of scouts, guides or other youth group and together becoming a new scout group with the Baden-Powell Service Association. Good for you! It can be a little daunting, but here’s the steps for getting it done. As the leader of your group, in BPSA you will be the Group Scoutmaster (GSM)--and it is part of the role of the GSM to register the group into the BPSA system.

During the transition, the thing to keep in mind is to maximize the excitement and fun and to minimize the hassle and uncertainty. Perhaps the best way to do this is to agree together to get this done, collect the funds to accomplish it, and then bulk-register the membership and bulk-order the manuals and uniforms. Of course, having each individual register themselves and order their own kit works too--the fun part of being a Group Scoutmaster is that you get to decide (with input as needed from others).

Note: These are the minimum steps for porting a fully functioning group across.

Budget Note: Sometimes budget considerations are primary--in which case the cost of handbooks, uniforms and neckers can all be deferred. Not being uniformed doesn't prevent a group from taking shape, and planning a way to raise money for uniforms and books make great initial projects for your new Group.

10 Steps Forward--March!

1. Choose a name. Time estimate: 4 minutes. Your unit name can be based on the unit name/number from your old association, or you can make up something new. Here are some example names to consider--follow a similar form:

55th Cascadia
98th Rainier
69th Rangers

Pro Tip: Take as much time and consult as many people as needed to choose your name. Check out names on Scout-Finder. The 4 minute estimate is basically provided for entertainment purposes only--unless you ALREADY KNOW what the name should be. Remember, it is a number in the ordinal form (-th, -st, -nd) followed by a word or short phrase. The word or short phrase should be something memorable and/or local. It might be geographical or geological or historical or patriotic. The number might be based on your prior unit number, latitude, longitude, postal code, date, or lucky number, etc. Prefer shorter numbers to longer numbers. The number should be a whole number--so sorry, can’t use Pi (grin).

2. Familiarize Yourself. Time Estimate: 2 hours. Browse through the BPSA website, review each of the programs (Otter, Timberwolf, Pathfinder, Rover). Read the Rover handbook (quickly, don’t get bogged down--you already know most of this stuff. This is your high-level review).

3. Register Yourself. Time Estimate: 5 minutes. Here is the Rover registration link: http://bpsa-us.org/individual-registration. You’ll need to have at least two adults registered to be a functioning scout group--might as well register the second adult now. Add 5 more minutes per adult. Cost per adult: $20

4. Register Group Charter. Time Estimate: 3 minutes. Here is the link to register a group charter: http://bpsa-us.org/bpsa-group-charter. Note: there is no requirement for a charter organization--as the GSM you are the charter holder. Cost for Charter: $35

Congratulations, with two adults registered and your Charter application complete, you are now a BPSA Scout Group. Depending on which part of the country you live in you’ll want to immediately reach out to your region Commissioner. Not sure who that is? Just ask one of us we’ll help you get it sorted out.

NOTE: Be aware that the registration system may not (yet) send information back to you. So whenever you register anyone be sure and keep a separate copy for your own records.

5. Register the remaining adults. Time Estimate: 5 minutes each. This is easily accomplished if you have their information in-hand prior to starting. All registered adults register as “Rovers.” NOTE: All adult registrations are provisional pending completion of a background check that will be completed by the BPSA-US.org. Cost per adult: $20

6. Register the remaining youth: Time Estimate: 5 minutes each. This is easily accomplished if you have their information in-hand prior to starting. Cost per youth: $20. Here are the age-breaks for each section:

Otter: 5-6 years old
Timberwolf: 7-10 years old
Pathfinder: 12-17 years old
Rover: 18 years old and over

7. Order Manuals. Time Estimate: 10 minutes: Scout handbooks can be downloaded in PDF Format for free, of course everyone loves having a physical copy. I recommend the spiral bound--save two bucks and buy in bulk orders of 10:

Cost
Timberwolf Handbook - Spiral Bound $16.00 each
Pathfinder Handbook (A5 Format) - Spiral Bound $14.00 each
Rover Handbook (A5 format) - Spiral Bound $13.00 each
8. Get uniforms. Time Estimate: 2 hours. For getting it done quickly I recommend getting sizes for everyone and buying in bulk. You’ll need to order hats, shirts, various badges and pins for each member. The quartermaster usually takes 10 days to three weeks to fulfill each order and get it delivered to you.

Rovers Cost
Rover or Pathfinder LS Shirt for men $34.00 each
'B-P Service Association' Name Strip $0.75 each
WFIS Badge $1.00 each
BPSA Hat Pin $4.00 each
Green Beret $12.49 each
Pathfinders Cost
Pathfinder LS Shirt for men $34.00 each
'B-P Service Association' Name Strip $0.75 each
WFIS Badge $1.00 each
BPSA Hat Pin $4.00 each
Red Beret $12.49 each
Timberwolf Cost
Recommended LS Shirt for Timberwolves $6.00 each
WFIS Badge $1.00 each
Timberwolf Six and Otter Den Flash $0.50 each
Recommended Ball Cap for Timberwolves - Small $6.00 each
Otter Cost
Recommended LS Shirt for Otter $6.00 each
WFIS Badge $1.00 each
Timberwolf Six and Otter Den Flash $0.50 each
Recommended Ball Cap for Otter - Small $6.00 each

Additionally, you’ll want to order your custom group flash. it will cost you $60 for 50 patches, at this link: http://baden-powell-service-assoc-quartermasters.myshopify.com/products/group-flash-custom.

NOTE: You will likely want a “round brown” campaign hat for yourself--but that’s an additional $55.

Pro Tip: This goes quickly if you have head sizes and shirt sizes for each person, and if someone can cover the costs to make a bulk order. Otherwise each individual can certainly order their own as they’re able, and the GSM only worries about getting their personal uniform and the custom group flash.

Reminder: Not being uniformed doesn't prevent a group from taking shape. Planning a way to raise money for uniforms and books make great initial projects for the new Group.

9. Design and order your Neckers. Time Estimate: 20 minutes. (Or reuse your old ones if you have them--of course you must cover any non-BPSA logos). Instructions here: http://bpsa-us.ning.com/group/scout-groups-leaders/page/group-necker-colors-designs. Cost is $16 each, or even better get your local quilting bee to make them at about half the cost. Note that “official” dress neckers have a prescribed design that is noted in the link (above)

10. Assign adult leaders to each of the Sections--and have them plan for meetings at least twice a month for each section. Perhaps you only staff a Timberwolf section to start--that’s cool! Grow the other sections as you are able. Meetings can be held out-of-doors at local parks. Second best is in a members home or at a local meeting hall or church, etc.

Accept Responsibility

BPSA does not provide insurance. You may want to seek insurance for your scout group, or rely on your homeowners coverage. Or partner with an existing neighborhood organization such as a club or church and benefit from their insurance. Eventually group insurance will be provided by BPSA, but it isn’t available yet.

High-level Cost Estimator

I've included this high-level cost estimator to help figure out the basic kit costs for your unit. The estimator includes the uniform, neckerchief, handbook, and membership costs, per person, as well as the group flash and charter fee. As always it's possible to not include uniform and handbook costs up front:

Section Cost Number Subtotal
Rover: $115
Pathfinder: $115
Timberwolf: $ 49
Otter: $ 51
Group Flash + Charter: $ 95 50 patches
Total: $ 0

Summary

You’re now ready to hold your first Group scout meeting in the Baden-Powell Service Association. You don’t have to wait for your uniforms, neckerchiefs and handbooks--you can get started right away. You have a wide world of traditional scouting fun ahead of you--between getting your uniforms squared away and preparing new unit banners and signage, learning your scout handbook and sharing all the skills and proficiencies, you've got the whole year and more ahead of you to get things sorted out. The best part is you've made the transition to fully inclusive, traditional scouting. It's a big step (ok, 10 steps!) but it's something you can be proud of and not feel the slightest bit complicated about.

See you around, scout!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Seattle Public Schools to End Affiliation with BSA

Chief Seattle Council and the Boy Scouts of America have refused to end their discriminatory membership and employment practices. They have instead opted to accept that Seattle Public School (SPS) must end its affiliation with BSA. See prior posts at:
Implementation details are expected to follow, and will be posted as they become available. It is expected the youth will experience little operational change to their outdoor program as curricula, insurance and other course materials are readily available from other sources. Chief Seattle Council was unavailable for comment.

Here is the letter received today:

Dorsey, Larry
To: Geoffrey McGrath
Cc: Sechrist, Calandra; Ruiz, Bernardo; Boy, Ronald D

Wed, Jul 9, 2014 at 4:02 PM

Mr. McGrath,

Thank you for working with Seattle Public Schools in your efforts to make our schools better.  Over the past few weeks we have conducted many meetings and have done a great deal of investigation regarding your concern.  As you can imagine, every course is structured with many layers from personnel to supplies so there are a number of issues that are being considered as we conduct this inquiry.  Further, as you may know, we are in a transitional period as our Superintendent has accepted a new position and we are in the process of hiring a new Superintendent for our District.

With that said, I would like to give you an update on the current status of this investigation and the next steps for the District.  At this point, we have concluded that we shall advise our Superintendent to end any affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America in relation to credit-earning courses.  We will continue to follow federal law and allow organizations to use our facilities after school hours pursuant to our facility use policy. We are currently working with our Risk Management and Curriculum and Instruction departments to determine the instructional material and insurance needs of an outdoor recreation credit-earning course.  We will keep you updated on the progress and thank you again for your cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,


Larry Dorsey        
Ronald D. Boy
Assistant General Counsel
Seattle Public Schools
John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence
2445 3rd Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98124
(206) 252-0114

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
George Orwell
Your comments and concerns are welcome--add them to the comment section below. I'll do my best to research answers to specific questions and welcome other's research as well.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Seattle Public School Continues Investigation into Claims it is Breaking the Law

Seattle Public Schools has re-opened its investigation into whether the Garfield POST program violates the state law (see prior posts: http://huhwot.blogspot.com/2014/05/open-letter-to-seattle-public-schools.html, http://huhwot.blogspot.com/2014/06/seattle-public-schools-believes-it-does.html), seeking fourteen more days to collect evidence and attempt to redress the problems. Here are the details discussing why the investigation was re-opened. Recall that this program is funded at least in part through a grant by the United Way of King County--who to dated has refused to address the discrimination issue:

On Wed, Jun 18, 2014 at 7:45 AM, Dorsey, Larry wrote:
Dear Mr. McGrath,

Based on your most recent email I am going to ask you for additional time to investigate the POST program at Garfield High School.  I am not personally aware or involved in the things you have mentioned and would like to investigate this matter further to inquire if the program complies with District policy and law.  Please let me know if this is acceptable to you.

Sincerely,
Larry Dorsey

On Wed, Jun 18, 2014 at 10:30 AM McGrath, Geoffrey wrote:
Dear Mr. Dorsey,

I am certainly interested in SPS conducting a thorough review of the out-of-compliance and illegal inter-operation currently existing between SPS and BSA with or without it's LFL subsidiary. How much time are you requesting?

To help facilitate your investigation, you may prefer to contact Scott [redacted], Garfield POST advisor listed at the contact number on their public website: http://www.ghspost.org/contact: (206) 660-[redacted]

Be aware the SPS school advisor associated with the program is currently being voted on by the students--that decision has not yet been announced.

Scott can confirm to you that POST meets daily during school hours for class credit, inter-ops with BSA through their employee named [redacted] (District Executive of Thunderbird District of Chief Seattle Council, 206-902-[redacted]), is unaware of Learning For Life or the LFL acronym, makes use of BSA training materials, forms, and insurance, etc. I expect these facts can be fully investigated in fairly short order. Your further investigation might extend to the role of BSA/CSC/LFL in Franklin High School's outdoor program, to include finding if there is any during-school-day use of training materials, curricula or other schools in the district.

You should be able to ascertain these facts rather quickly, and then prepare a public statement regarding intention to rectify this shortly. That public statement is needed, how much time do you require?

Yours,
Geoffrey McGrath


On Wed, Jun 18, 2014 at 2:25 PM, Dorsey, Larry wrote:
Dear Mr. McGrath –

Thank you for bringing this information to my attention.  It does appear that a further review needs to be conducted.  I am requesting fourteen (14) working days which would bring us to the 9th of July.   You can expect a reply by then or sooner.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any further concerns.

Sincerely,
Larry Dorsey

On Wed, Jun 18, 2014 at 2:35 PM, Geoffrey McGrath wrote:
Dear Mr. Dorsey,
You are in the process of developing the facts that will be used to influence policy in the days and years to come, and preparing those facts to stand up to a rigorous challenge in this matter from either side of the issue, regardless of decision-making at your level, at the board level, or elsewhere, is needed. I appreciate the work you are doing and a fourteen-day extension beyond the normal time-frames established in policy and statute makes sense and is acceptable.

Sincerely,
Geoffrey McGrath

Friday, June 13, 2014

Seattle Public Schools Believes It Does Not Have to Comply with State Law Regarding Employment Discrimination

Several weeks ago I wrote to the Seattle Public Schools to understand why they were breaking the law in providing access to the BSA, well-known for it's employment practices discriminating against LGBT people.  This is their response:

Dear Mr. McGrath,

Received via e-mail 2:01 pm June 13/2014
Thank you for your inquiry regarding the use of Seattle Public School facilities by programs associated with the Boy Scouts of America and the Chief Seattle Council. We are aware of the concerns of discriminatory practices by programs associated with the Boy Scouts of America and appreciate your concern. As a school district, a large part of our funding for education comes from the federal government. Also, as I am sure you are aware, federal law trumps state and local laws. With that understanding, in 2002 the Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act, Section 9525 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of A965, as amended by Section 901 of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 became Federal law. The law applies to public elementary and secondary schools, local educational agencies, and State educational agencies that receive Federal funds made available through the Department of Education. Under the Boy Scouts Act, which became effective on January 8, 2002, no such public school, LEA, or SEA that provides an opportunity for one or more outside youth or community groups to meet on school premises or in school facilities shall deny access or a fair opportunity to, or discriminate against, any group officially affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America, or any other group listed in Title 36 of the United States Code as a patriotic society, that wishes to meet at the school.

Seattle Public Schools must follow the law. Because we provide many youth and community groups the opportunity to use our District buildings, we must allow programs associated with the Boy Scouts as well. By denying the Boy Scouts, we would also be forced to deny all associations. In the end, this would prevent our students and families from accessing many very beneficial programs and would in the end harm our students.
Again, thank you for your concern and inquiry into our practices. I hope this information has answered your questions and I thank you for the work you do for our students.

Sincerely,

Larry Dorsey Civil Rights Compliance Officer
This reading of the law by SPS is flawed, in that it only applies to access to the physical plant before or after standard instructional hours (see http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/boyscouts.html). The details in the ECFR don't change that (http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c=ecfr&rgn=div5&view=text&node=34:1.2.1.1.6&idno=34), making the claims by SPS regarding their during-school-hours BSA and/or LFL programs fully problematic. Additional suspect areas include any non-rented associated equipment storage, as well as approved during-school extra-curricular activities associated with such programs.

BSA/LFL are involved in SPS schools during school hours. For starters, there is the Garfield High School POST program (http://www.ghspost.org). I could imagine a series of interrogatories that would establish certain facts:
  1. When are meetings?
  2. How many kids?
  3. What adults are involved (SPS/BSA?)
  4. Who is the BSA/LFL liaison (scouting professional)?
  5. When are activities?
  6. Where is equipment stored?
  7. Who owns the equipment?
  8. Is there a document for review?
  9. What about employment discrimination?
  10. Are kids registered with BSA?
  11. If BSA forms are used...they were developed by discriminating org...
  12. Produce a copy of the contract...
Federal law does not apply to LFL contracts nor BSA contracts with the districts, as they are for accessing curriculum-based program materials that is paid for by the school district. The same is true with Exploring, in as much as it is sponsored by the district/school. The district has chosen to sponsor an Exploring Post and pay BSA for LFL materials and program administration conducted by their paid professionals. Federal law does not require the school district to do so. The districts use of those materials as administered by paid BSA and/or LFL "executives," including Scoutreach, is a violation of state law for activities that have no protection in federal law. Again, NCLB has no bearing on LFL and/or Exploring, in these instances.  I cannot tell if this is simply misunderstood by the respondent, or if a hand-wave is being attempted in the response.

Federal law only applies to the situation where an Explorer Post that is organized by the community--not the school--wanted to use school facilities. Their response addresses that particular case--which is not what I asserted--I agree that under federal law, the district may have to treat them like any other community organization. If they do not charge a facility fee to such organizations, they cannot charge the Post, they also must charge the Post if they charge a facility fee to other community organizations.

In the case of the POST program at Garfield (for example), as long as there is no special access during school hours, nor any special accommodation that is not equally available to all comers at the same cost (such as storage of equipment, use of district vehicles, computers, etc.), then the district may rely on federal law, in-as-much as that law is constitutional (it isn't, but that would likely have to be proved).

Beyond the facts established by answers to these question there is this: Can Federal law provide special access to employment discriminators overriding the constitutionally provided equal protection of all citizens? Imagine the worst case where all employment (except perhaps governmental) were associated with private organizations such as the BSA--and all of those employers refused to employ LGBT people--without the means to secure a livelihood all such people would be unprotected in our society.

Naturally, this correspondence will be forwarded on to the appropriate parties for their consideration, and to prepare to work through the appeal to the Seattle Public School board.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Chief Seattle Council Censors Negative Reviews

Attempting to control the message through censorship, rather than receiving the information and making necessary changes is very discouraging to those who want to love the BSA in Seattle, the Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts of America has removed public accessibility to the review section on their Facebook page.

This link only works for those who have already rated them. For all others, users receive a "404 - File Not Found" error code:  https://www.facebook.com/seattlebsa/reviews.

I've preserved the reviews (below) in screenshots and transcribed text:

Geoffrey McGrath
Rating: 1 star
Chief Seattle Council has great facilities and programs for many youth. But the traditional Scouting program doesn't yet fully support and defend gay and lesbian adult leaders (whether professional or volunteer), which means that gay youth don't yet have access to role models within their scouting programs specific to their unique needs to help them in their path to becoming fully secure and productive members of society. If the Council can begin to develop diversity programs and improve the ability of individual units to support their diverse membership, and if it can find a way to further influence the change towards full equality and participation throughout scouting then my assessment will be changed from "very good" to "excellent." UPDATED: With Chief Seattle Council's refusal to support and defend Troop 98 and Pack 98, I can no longer rate CSC as anything but poor. The continued discrimination against LGBT people in employment and in service is appalling. If this practice changes in future I'm happy to re-evaluate this rating.

Ranesto Bello Angeles
Rating: 1 star
Show some courage and guts Chief Seattle Council like your namesake (Chief Sealth) would have done to defend his tribe. You need to support Troop 98, Geoff McGrath, and Rainier Beach United Methodist Church with leadership. Don't be complacent and compliant to an organization that discriminates. Too many generations of people (women, people of color, people with disabilties, etc.) have been hurt because influencial people were afraid to stand up for what is just and right. This is your chance, Seattle Chief Council, to be on the right side of history.
Stephen Davis
Rating: 1 star
Continued discrimination against gay scouters, and an unwillingness to stand up for proper treatment of gay scouts. This council is on the wrong side of history.

Brian Z-g
Rating: 1 star
I do not support your discrimination and dissolving of Pack and Troop 98.

David Green
Rating: 1 star
A scout is loyal. Stand by Troop 98 and Pack 98.

Elaine Cress
Rating: 1 star
An organization that discriminates based on gender or sexual orientation is not in alignment with the principles of our nation. Chief Seattle BSA needs to change those policies.

Walker Lee
Rating: 1 star
Your shabby treatment of Geoffrey McGrath and Troop and Pack 98 outweighs any positives.
Dave McGrath
Rating: 1 star
I am concerned about the fact that the United Way funds Learning for Life™ and Exploring™ programs of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA™) and in this way funds a private non-sectarian non-religious program which discriminates against LGBT employees using both public moneys (as a contractor/vendor of Seattle Public Schools for the LFL curriculum and as a recipient of United Way Federal Campaign funds). I am concerned that this private organization bans its own members if they happen to be LGBT (re: Rainier Beach United Methodist Church (RBUMC) Troop/Pack 98. I am concerned when youth who identify as LGBTQ cannot obtain employment at Council owned camps and facilities, or if they are silent on the issue but are "outed" that they will be fired per their conditions of employment. What kind of message does that send to the kids in the program? What kind of message does that send to our community. I'll be happy to up-grade their rating when BSA's Chief Seattle Council stops "legally" discriminating against Christians and others who identify as LGBTQ. The facilities are excellent. But those excellent facilities lure kids and parents who may be LGBTQ into what is for them an unsafe environment without full prior disclosure that BSA membership policies reject identification of adults who are LGBTQ or any kid who identifying as LGBTQ makes that identification known publicly. I notice Chief Seattle Council | Boy Scouts of America has taken notice of ratings. Perhaps they will make the correct response and fix the problem that cause the honest assessment of their program. I encourage CSC to become a certified non-discriminating council. Here is where CSC can earn much merit and get a certificate suitable for framing:

Jeannie Boatright Thompson
Rating: 1 star
You should be ashamed for discriminating against folks.
Wendell Baker
Rating: 1 star
The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law. The volunteer council board should lead by example. As volunteers in the boy scouts it is their job to teach leadership. Is blind obedience and "no comment" really the lesson the volunteers on the board want to pass on to the youth?
Devin Quince
Rating: 1 star
You are a disgrace to Scouting and the human race. Scouting is about kids, not your hateful agenda.
Kenny Fudge
Rating: 1 star
Because of their choice to treat and push away any LGBT leaders.

Fred Swink
Rating: 1 star

Ron Terren
Rating: 1 star
UnlikeUnlike
Ron Terren 
Rating: 1 star
So disappointing shame
David Peavy
Rating: 1 star

Edna Ebilane Crawfoot
Rating: 5 star

Paul Laudanski
Rating: 5 star