Dear Ms. Niizuma-Arambula,Are you aware of similar recruiting going on in your school district? If so, be sure and write a letter of complaint to your district ombudsman or compliance officer. They are required to respond within specific timeframes to resolve the matter within the constraints of the law. Discuss your efforts, successes and concerns in the comments below.
I read this article in the press with alarm today: How the Cub Scouts' Exclusion Impacts Our Fourth Grader
I'm sure you are aware it is against state law and public policy for organizations that discriminate against LGBT people to have access to our students and facilities (see this article published by the OSPI: http://www.k12.wa.us/SafetyCenter/BullyingHarassment/pubdocs/ProhibitingDiscriminationPublicSchools.pdf).
The only exception to this in relation to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), in that they must be given equal access to rent facilities before or after school in an equal manner with any other neighborhood group.
Besides the recruiting event noted above, I have the following questions of Highline Public Schools:
I would be happy to discuss this with further, and look forward to your response. If there is a procedure that should be followed that I have not yet followed to ensure this is handled as a formal complaint please let me know what I should do.Thank you very much for your consideration and attention to this..
- What other recruiting events for BSA happen during the school day?
- What will be done to correct this event and ensure no further violations occur?
- What other programs of BSA currently operate in this district?
- Does this district currently have Scoutreach, Learning For Life, or any other inter-operation, contracts or programs run by BSA or their Learning For Life subsidiary?
- Are BSA personnel currently permitted on school grounds during the school day?
Geoff McGrath, MSW
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Thursday, September 11, 2014
- Praise of BSA
- Credit taking for the outcome of the 2013 vote and the new membership policy
- Little discussion of the problems of the new policy for youth
- Encouragement of continued participation in BSA
- No option for those who cannot or will not participate in BSA
- No participation/visibility of LGBT adults
- Praise for Robert M. Gates
- Charitable mind-reading of Gates' actual intentions and plans
- duplicity of BSA regarding age of adult membership, and Gates' participation in that decision
- analysis of how these plans accelerate change above do-nothing baseline
- helping "grow" the program during epoch of discrimination--doesn't that rather discourage change?
- the steps individuals and units can/should take now
- addressing the actual needs of LGBT youth and adults in BSA now
Basically, I see little daylight between the official BSA position and SFE, in that both seek to grow the program (BSA) without bringing irresistible pressure for change to any layer of the program. There is a fantasy discussion about how the policy will change by virtue of a top-down effort driven by people who are on record to do nothing for the next two years, and with every reason to believe their intentions are to continue to do nothing after that, unless compelled to do differently by force majeure.
SFE appears to believe that because its board is made up of Eagle Scouts therefore it has leverage with the BSA organization. But there is no recognition that current BSA members (of which few if any SFE board members are), whether volunteer or professional, are hierarchically focused--they look up their chain of command and don't look to former members, no matter what rank those former members achieved.
Without a change in strategies and tactics I suspect that BSA will continue to ignore the efforts of SFE. But imagine BSA were to encourage the efforts of SFE--what happens then? Essentially it allows BSA to return to growth, to continue to confuse the nation that BSA is actually supportive of diversity and inclusion, without making any real or meaningful change.
I may have missed an important point or two--what was your read, what do you think is useful or not useful in the presentation, and what is needed to make real our aspiration for fully inclusive scouting today?
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
The comments are worth the read as well.
How we face the "echoes of Jim Crow laws" is key--and it is on each of us to find the justifiable and defensible place for ourselves, in front of our peers, and before the judgment of the generations to come.
For my own involvement in these institutions, I strive always for this: To work constantly and directly towards a fully-inclusive future, and otherwise to facilitate an "underground railroad" providing a route to safety and freedom for the oppressed and for those forced to oppress if they remain.
There is a test to know when we are collaborating with the status quo, or taking advantage of a closeted or privileged position: If after every participation in the discriminating organization we come away thinking perhaps the words spoken or actions taken on that specific day are likely to bring about the desired institutional change, or to lead to your own expulsion from the organization, that is when we know we have stepped into the uncertainty and taken the risks required for change. It doesn't require a majority of us to live dangerously, and to take the leap of faith, but it does require some of us.
When enough of us predicate our continued participation in this way the change becomes inevitable, and the discrimination will end.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Here is what I'm talking about: District policy requires prompt action within published time-frames. I wrote to the district in May--they requested additional time, and then agreed change was needed in July. I requested confirmation from the Superintendent--policy requires a prompt response, with the change actually implemented within 30 days. Here we are two months later. The letter you'll read below is reasonably straight-forward. It is clear that the Superintendent is going to end the affiliation with the Boy Scout of America (BSA) based on the concerns raised with the school district back in May. I was gratified to finally received this letter via e-mail (even though it never arrived in the post as promised, and required some persistence on my part to have it finally sent).
August 18, 2014While the letter doesn't address my concerns about the Scoutreach(tm) program, it is clear they intend the POST program to be re-implemented without BSA's involvement. If you look at my prior blog entries the district arrived at this decision and wrote about it back in early July. Curiously, the district never informed the instructor (I hear he was called by the press today about it, and likely was distressed to hear first from them rather than from his superiors).
Mr. Geoffrey McGrath
Seattle, WA 98118
RE: POST at Garfield High School
Dear Mr. McGrath,
Thank you for bringing your concern about the POST program at Garfield High School to the attention of our staff. Our staff, led by Mr. Larry Dorsey, reviewed this course offering and determined that the affiliation of the Boy Scouts of America with a credit-bearing course is not appropriate. Therefore, we are taking steps to end the affiliation before the start of the 2013-2014 school year.
It is our plan to transition this offering into an environmental education course for the students who have enrolled in POST. In order to make this transition, the content of the course will be evaluated by our Career & Technical Education (CTE) program manager to ensure the content is sufficient to provide course credit. In addition, we are working with our Risk Management office to determine the insurance needed for this type of course. As long as the course is worthy of credit and the district is able to obtain sufficient insurance, we will transition to an environmental education course for the 2014-2015 school year. If it is not, the course will be dropped and the students will be reassigned to other courses.
Again, thank you for your concern and I hope this answers your questions. Mr. Dorsey will be available to keep you updated as we work on this transition.
Dr. Larry Nyland
Today a member of the press stopped by to get my reaction. He tells me the district told him that they were making program changes not because of discrimination, but because of problems related to academic rigor. I think they suggested that discrimination had nothing to do with it, and even claimed that the original concern was originated by a parent. The story just got published, you can read it here: http://www.king5.com/story/news/local/seattle/2014/08/27/seattle-public-schools-ends-boy-scouts-affiliation/14718563/
As far as I can tell, our new Superintendent was being straight with me, even if he has yet to be responsive with regards to the other BSA programs operating in other public schools. I don't know who the reporter spoke with--but I'm curious to find out. If it was some bureaucrat simply invented a reason then I suppose that is understandable, and they'll get their story straightened out. But if it turns out the Superintendent is inventing new reasons, then that could be an early indicator of truth-telling problems coming from the top.
Either way, transparency matters. Just ask the people of Ferguson, Mo. They'll tell you. They have a tale of woe we should all be paying attention to because of the official shenanigans played out by the folks in power.
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
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.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!
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.
Saturday, July 19, 2014
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.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 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.
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
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:
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:
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.
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
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.
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
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!