Friday, October 17, 2014

Highline School District Ends BSA Recruiting During School Day

Highline School District is taking the matter of nondiscrimination seriously, ending the prior practice of allowing BSA personnel access to students and facilities during the school day. See this post for background: Here is the reponse from Superintendent Enfield:
Highline Public Schools
Ambaum Boulevard Southwest
Burien, Washington 98166

October 10, 2014

Dear Mr. McGrath,

I have received notification of your complaint regarding Boys Scouts of America distributing program material and recruiting students during the school day. We recognize that these activities should not have occurred during the school day. The district has implemented reasonable measures to eliminate this circumstance in the future. We have spoken with the principal in question to make sure she is aware that these activities should occur befoer or after school. Further, we have taken the initiative to remind all building leadership of our Nondiscrimination policy and the Equal Access Act.

If you have any further questions, or believe your concerns have not been addressed, you may appeal to the School Board of Directors by filing a written notice of appeal to the Secretary of the Board. Please refer to the attached Board Policy and Procedure 3210 and 3210P for specific timeline information.

Susan Enfield, Ed. D.
It is interesting to compare the difference in tone and rational with that provided by Seattle Public Schools, who made program changes but claimed it was due to academic rigor rather than discrimination.

Do you think that Highline has gone far enough to ensure all students and families are treated with equal respect and dignity? Your comments and concerns are welcome in the section below.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Boy Scouts of America and Illegal Recruiting in Highline Public Schools

The problem of illegal recruiting on the part of Boy Scouts of America in public schools in Washington State continues. This week it is in the town of Burien, a suburb of Seattle, in the Highline School District. I read about the recruiting in an article published in the Huffington Post, which prompted my letter to the District Ombudsman:
Dear Ms. Niizuma-Arambula,

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:

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:

  1. What other recruiting events for BSA happen during the school day?
  2. What will be done to correct this event and ensure no further violations occur?
  3. What other programs of BSA currently operate in this district?
  4. 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?
  5. Are BSA personnel currently permitted on school grounds during the school day?
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..

Geoff McGrath, MSW
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.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Analysis of the Scouts for Equality Strategy Briefing

Scouts for Equality (SFE) is "an American advocacy organization that advocates for equal treatment within the Boy Scouts of America's for all scouts and scout leaders, regardless of sexual orientation." It recently published a strategy briefing to see what the thrust of SFE would be going forward. It merits a longer post, but in brief here is my rather hard-nosed analysis:
  1. Praise of BSA
  2. Credit taking for the outcome of the 2013 vote and the new membership policy
  3. Little discussion of the problems of the new policy for youth
  4. Encouragement of continued participation in BSA
  5. No option for those who cannot or will not participate in BSA
  6. No participation/visibility of LGBT adults
  7. Praise for Robert M. Gates
  8. Charitable mind-reading of Gates' actual intentions and plans
  9. etc.
Significant as well is what was not discussed:
  1. duplicity of BSA regarding age of adult membership, and Gates' participation in that decision
  2. analysis of how these plans accelerate change above do-nothing baseline
  3. helping "grow" the program during epoch of discrimination--doesn't that rather discourage change?
  4. the steps individuals and units can/should take now
  5. addressing the actual needs of LGBT youth and adults in BSA now
  6. etc.
Perhaps the plans to rate individual councils on their actual support of full equality and preparedness to meet the actual needs of LGBT members will be useful, though it is hard to say until those plans are circulated. Why rating Councils rather than Units makes sense is not discussed. Note the prior advice for LGBT scout/scouters thinking of coming out was rather limited, broke no new ground, and provided nothing that wasn't already available from other venues.

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

Parallels between Jim Crow and current BSA Discrimination?

This article points to the dilemma we all face (it is addressing the United Methodist Church, but the situation is synonymous to that in the BSA, LDS and other institutions who hold the right to discriminate as a higher virtue): Echoes of Jim Crow in the United Methodist Church.

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

Superintendent declares Seattle Public Schools will End Affiliation with Boy Scouts of America

Sometimes change comes slowly, even when the laws are in place and the policies already written that require change in a timely way. Sometimes the reason for the change, and the scope of the change is fully acknowledged, and other times the reasons become obscured.

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, 2014

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
While 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).

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:

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

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,'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 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 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


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: 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: 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 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:

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:

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: 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


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.


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:,, 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.

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: (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?

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.

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.

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.


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 The details in the ECFR don't change that (, 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 ( 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:

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

Edna Ebilane Crawfoot
Rating: 5 star

Paul Laudanski
Rating: 5 star

Friday, June 6, 2014

Who is the Victim?

The following message was posted on my timeline on Facebook

Geoff - I am offended that you write that no one from the Thunderbird District has supported your efforts. Many of us have. The issue you are confusing is providing a program for the boys and an outlet for your rightful frustration and anger with the membership decision of Scouting. While many of us disagree with that decision, and we do, we fortunately or unfortunately live in a democracy where a vote was taken and some of us were in the minority. Nevertheless, we chose to stay with Scouting. You have all the right you want to disagree with that policy. In the meantime, for us, it is about the kids. And will remain that way. /Cory 
My response came over several days, and after an e-mail exchange as well. I don't have leave to publish Cory's part of the e-mail exchange, but here is how I responded (sorry for the all-caps, but FB doesn't let you bold or underline):
Hey, It's OK to be offended. What I said is there was no public support by ANY MEMBER OF COUNCIL nor ANY MEMBER OF THUNDERBIRD DISTRICT other than members of those units directly affected.. The moment that changes I am happy to change my post. Nothing prevents any of you from staying in Scouting. But what prevents ALL OF YOU from withholding your vocal and robust outrage at the actions of your district, your council and BSA national? Private chest-pounding in meetings may have happened, but I haven't seen it and NO ONE ELSE IN TOWN has seen it either. Public statements are needed, why are they withheld? What is the threshold of outrage that would enable your voice? 
You mentioned that many in Thunderbird District have supported my efforts. It would be good to list that support, so it can be accounted for. It is true that I have seen some non-support, and also some pseudo support, but it may well be there has been meaningful and helpful support that has been outside my view.  
Support that we need but haven't seen include financial reimbursement for the cost of our lost charters, and the waste of our uniforms, support for the cost of re-uniforming our kids and staff, additional help with funding our scholarships, and completing our equipment locker and gear. Helping out with our meetings, attending our rallies, insisting that internal systems in BSA become actually responsive to our needs rather than the opposite. Refusing to permit business as usual until the crisis is resolved, nominating any member of our units who can no longer be BSA members as "honored guests" to district committees. While those things haven't happened, perhaps some other things have that we can account for now.
Another opportunity for tangible support would be for units in our District to attend Pride parade, in uniform and with your unit banners. That kind of support would be most welcome, would be very visible, would be completely appropriate and would send the message to the city at large that Troop 98 and Pack 98 are not abandoned. Will you be marching? Will Troop 15 be marching? If not will you lend us your banners and we'll march in your stead. Seattle Pride Parade is the last Sunday in June, I'd be happy to add you to the parade event for full details.  
It is true there are many paths to victory on this. Advances in civil rights come through direct action and activism and exercise of power. Some people have asserted, though none have proven, that the "say only nice things approach" makes gains where a more muscular approach hasn't. I doubt there is research that supports those claims, rather that is to confuse cause and effect.  
While I appreciate your in-private and behind-close-doors approach may yield improvements--my emphasis is on "may." There is no measurable improvement for the standing of Troop 98/Pack 98 in the Chief Seattle Council despite those efforts. If you think otherwise then please show me how? Of course the unofficial offers that were extended by [redacted] and yourself were welcome for their sentiment--but they were not acceptable to the RBUMC membership, any more than they were to me or the Pastor as I suggested when we met for lunch. It may be you would benefit hearing feedback from them about the offers--how they felt about them, what their thoughts were. Such a session can be scheduled--[redacted] attended one last week.  
I have been unable to acknowledge secret offers made in private with no names attached, with conditions that the offers not be made public. I'm unclear how you think I can do that? What I have done is describe an anonymous offer on my blog--which you can read about here: I would note that offer was slightly better than the one you made. If you intend your offer to be published then I encourage you to do so, or respond back on the prior e-mail as you indicated you would. Until offers are made in a way that makes them publically discussible, I'm uncertain how you wish I would proceed in acknowledging them?  
It is correct that there is isolation occurring--very often in the face of official silence, those who remain on the inside resolve their cognitive dissonance by adopting a "blame the victim" approach. My isolation is caused by the policy, and by the public silence on the issue, by the revocation of my membership and the charters of the units. When you and others complain about my advocacy, rather than acknowledge and move to support and defend us, you are curiously putting yourself in the victim role. That kind of displacement is naturally distressing to me, and I hope you will reconsider.  
You will find that as others within Chief Seattle Council speak out in ways that Rainier Beach neighborhood and the people of the City of Seattle can see, the problems you detect in my tone and advocacy will resolve. I have suggested some concrete ways that might happen (above), have you considered them, if so can we not act in cooperation? Additionally, consider that I'd be quite willing to sit on the sidelines on this, especially if we can agree on a course of action that makes sense to us all.
Well see if the conversation can proceed further from it's obviously blocked state. I do believe that Cory and I are natural allies, and it is sad that we have yet to find a way forward that is mutually supportive. I'm sure if I were better suited to this work we could find a way through. We probably simply need to find some time to get out in the woods together. That's what Scouting is all about after all, isn't it?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Does United Way of King County Support Employment Discrimination?

Two weeks ago I wrote the United Way of King County (UWKC) to express my concerns that after 22 years of posturing they continue to fund the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), the Chief Seattle Council (CSC) and the Learning For Life (LFL) programs. Jon Fine, CEO of UWKC was kind enough to respond as follows:
May 22 , 2014

Dear Mr. McGrath,

Thank you for your support of United Way and for your letter expressing concern regarding our funding criteria as it relates to the Boy Scouts Chief Seattle Council (BSC).   In the past funding cycle, United Way of King County awarded a grant to the BSC’s Learning for Life program ‘Exploring’ associated with the outcome ‘youth and young adults gain education and work skills’.

United Way of King County makes funding decisions not on entitlement, relationships or long standing partnerships, but as part of a periodic, competitive process in which non-profit agencies apply to achieve outcomes in key areas that United Way has determined will make the greatest impact in our community.

Agencies that receive funding from United Way are required to sign a funding contract and agree to the stipulations therein, including United Way of King County’s Non-Discrimination Compliance Measures.

These contracts state that “The Contractor shall not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, presence of a disability or any other requirements of federal,  state or local law in the delivery of service. “

The Learning for Life Corporation and its Exploring program meet the criteria and do not withhold the delivery of service to any person regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic background, economic status or citizenship, and they have signed the required contract.

The Exploring program is focused on exposing middle school aged children to a range of careers and helps kids build life skills and experience at a time that is key to their development. This grant is just one of many throughout the community that is helping United Way achieve its vision that every child has an equal chance to succeed.  It is part of a continuum of care that begins with the Parent-Child Home Program for two to four year olds, continues with
programs that support middle grade success and ultimately helps the most vulnerable kids in our community graduate from high school on time and with the skills they need to succeed in life.

The funding contracts also state that “The Contractor also acknowledges and understands United Way of King County’s strong commitment to and preference for contractors to prohibit discrimination based age, gender, race, sexual orientation, national origin, religion and presence of a disability in all areas, including governance, employment or volunteer recruitment.”

United Way of King County will continue as we have consistently done to encourage all organizations including the Boy Scouts of America Chief Seattle Council to prohibit discrimination for any reason in all aspects of their business.

I appreciate your time in reaching out to us and your input.

Jon Fine
CEO United Way of King County 
Note how there is no teeth in this--that in fact employment discrimination against LGBTQ people appears to be accepted as business-as-usual. I've followed up with the following communique, and will be working to meet individually with board members in the coming week(s):
I'm continuing to look into the matter of the funding of BSA/CSC/LFL. There is additional information needed that will help me better communicate the scope of the problem when I meet with board members in the coming week. Can you help me gather it, or indicate who I can work with to get this information?  These are my questions: 
1. What is the level of funding of CSC/LFL provided by UWKC for each of the past 5 years?
2. Individuals can designate BSA/CSC for directed funding. How much has been designated by individuals for each of the past 5 years?
3. In what way does UWKC track contractor employment practices to ensure non-discrimination
4. What other non-religious employment discriminators besides BSA/CSC/LFL does UWKC contract with?
5. What metrics are used to regarding employment discrimination among UWKC contractors?
6. What plans to improve transparency regarding UWKC awarding contractors of employment discriminators are currently planned, what changes are expected in future? 
7. What plans if any are there to improve employment non-discrimination going forward?
8. How specifically does employment non-discrimination factor into awarding contracts? 
9. What is the contract that was awarded in the most recent funding cycle to BSA/CSC/LFL. Was the contract competitive, who else competed for the contract (specific contact information requested)?
Responsive answers to these questions will help us all improve the conditions for LGBTQ people in our county, and help establish UWKC as the leader in the nation on these issues. Additionally, similar questions are being asked of the Seattle Foundation, Seattle Public Schools, and in turn all school districts throughout the state, with the help of the Office of the Superintendent of Public Education. The era of unequal access to employment and other forms of discrimination is coming to an end, your participation secures the future.
Geoffrey C. McGrath, MSW
LGBTQ people in specific, and fair-minded people generally are outraged at continuing practices of employment and other forms of discrimination. You can express your own feelings on this matter by contacting UWKC directly, or by reaching out to individual members of the board.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Hate Posted Again on Church

This morning was the second time in a little over a week that anonymous hate messages where posted on the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church (RBUMC), \home of Troop 98 and Pack 98, fully inclusive scouting units currently unaffiliated with the Boy Scouts of America. This posting showed up last week:

Here is a closeup--it says "I don't t'ink dee 'omosexual movement should have stolen dee rainbow colors for dare fuckin' flag in dee first place. I wish you would tag dis fuckin' flag down because you are an eyesore to me now and your pissin' me off royally! [signed] Top-5":

This is what was posted this morning on the reader board. It says: "You're still pissin' me off royally, you wort'less piec-of-tit fucking losers operating out of dis crappy church rye now, you're still pissin' me off royally, you wor'less piec-of-tit fucking losers! [signed] Top-5":

And on the window by the front door: "Cvilization is a conspiracy. Modern life is a silent compact of comfortable folk to keep up pretences. -John Buchan"

Rather than joining in a civilized dialogue, the poster does this in the middle of the night. Such postings minimally constitute graffiti and trespassing. They are intended to cause tensions and fear between races, and across sexual orientations. That behavior is a manifestation of hate, and is a classic manifestation of a hate crime.

Monday, May 26, 2014

What is my Scouting Unit's Score of Actual Support of LGBTQ Gay People?

I'd like to propose a simple scoring tool that can help you know how well your Scouting unit supports its LGBTQ gay members.  Add up the total point from the items below. The goal is to score a total of 10 points. No matter where you score, tell your story in the comments below about where your Troop, Pack or Post, District or Council currently scores, and what your plans are to increase your score in future. For extra credit, propose other things that could help your unit score an 11! (See This Is Spinal Tap to know more about that, lol!).

If your unit is:
abusive to LGBTQ score minus 1 point
neutral to LGBTQ  score 1 point
desires to be LGBTQ friendly score 1 point
knows how to be LGBTQ friendly score 1 point
displays LGBTQ friendly patches/signs score 1 point
makes public LGBTQ-friendly statements in policy statements score 1 point
makes public LGBTQ-friendly statements in press statements score 1 point
has LGBTQ youth members score 1 point
has LGBTQ adult members score 1 point
publishes names of gay members score 1 point
publicly participates with banners, etc. in Pride and other gay-specific events score 1 point


If you are really excited about this, and want to get your Troop, Pack or Post listed on a public registry of Inclusive Scouting Units, visit this link to find out more: Scout Pride Inclusive Units.

Click this link to order Inclusive Scouting patches. did your unit score?

How to Tell if Support Really Is

I posted this poll recently in several online forums for the LDS (aka Mormon) population. Yet the issues are the same in the Boy Scouts of America, the United Way, and virtually all other institutions.  This was the poll question:
How can you tell if your local Bishop, High Councilman, Relief Society President or Stake President is actually supportive of LGBTQ or is simply using you to feel better about themselves. [Add options to the list, vote for things you agree with. Discuss in comments.]
They write letters to orgs in your community in suport of LGBTQ equality
They speak about the need for equal dignity and rights in Church meetings
They participate in Gay Pride parades
They advocate for equal rights at board meetings of United Way, etc
They speak out publicly against employment, housing and other discrimination
Some folks felt badly about this poll, to which I responded:
I don't mean to imply any motivation attribution. I mean to suggest that secret or tacit or even sympathetic noises don't cut it. Gay people need advocacy. "Support" without advocacy is hollow, and we insist on better from our formal leaders. Their active support to end the neglect and abuse of our people is necessary. Let's know that for ourselves, and require it going forward in others. LGBTQ people aren't here to make straight people feel better about themselves. We aren't here to make it easier on anyone. We have a long history of being horribly mistreated by Mormons. There has been significant cheerleading in this forum and others--statements that confuse the matter that it remains perilous for LGBTQ people to remain within Mormonism.
The improvement in self-esteem that straight people can achieve is a by-product of difficult work well done. The items listed in the poll in the top post are examples of that. People rightly feel better, and deserve our recognition to the extent those good works are accomplished.
As our leaders come to understand their responsibilities to us, and act on those responsibilities, and treat us as more important than the risk of criticism or calling, and place our needs above those of institutional requirement for silence and continued complicity, to that extent bridges are being built to the promised land of equal dignity and service.
Polls such as this are meant to be educational, to help the out-group (in this case, LGBTQ people) understand what it is they are concretely asking for, and the in-group (in this case, straight people) to understand specifically what is needed.

Your thoughts and comments are welcome. And thanks for your active support.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Rainier Beach Delegation to Chief Seattle Council

The delegation from Rainier Beach to the Chief Seattle Council's annual retreat was last week. We tried to deliver a packet that contained this cover letter. Unfortunately we weren't permitted to leave the information we'd brought, and not even 5 minutes were freed up on the agenda to hear our concerns.  Below is a copy of what was prepared but could not be delivered:
Seattle, WA 98118

TO: Members of Chief Seattle Council Board

DATE: 5/15/2014

RE: Status of Troop 98 and Pack 98

Dear Members of the Board and Guests,

This packet contains the original Charter of Troop 98, as well as the letters revoking my membership from the BSA, and the letter revoking the Charters of Troop 98 and Pack 98.

Also are included are letters from our elected officials, who unanimously express concerns over actions taken by National BSA as well as this Council. In those letters they urge you to be true to our obligations to each other, and to the values and virtues of Scouting. They urge you to reject the spirit of discrimination that that is so foreign to our beloved city, and to act to restore these Units fully intact back to our community.

I hope you will review this information and consider their request. Attached with this packet is an “Inclusive Scouting Knot.” This knot is earned by wearing it. Wear it with pride. More information about the badge can be found here:

The youth in our community, as well as their parents, need to know that they can “Come out and Scout(™)” without concern their friends will not be able to participate fully with them, or that they will be criticized by their peers or coworkers for participating in an organization that fails to support and defend their LGBT friends (or themselves) fully.

We can all be fully proud of the work we do, and the involvement we have in the Scouting movement, as we provide an uncomplicated and full-throated defense of our own people. Let’s all of us stick up together for our Troop 98 and Pack 98 of the Thunderbird District, and for the idea that Rainier Beach United Methodist Church must determine appropriate adult leadership, and in so doing we stick up for all the gay kids and gay and lesbian adults we work and play with, who put in the long hours and share the joys and pains that bring so much to so many Scouts and Scouters in our town. Let us no longer require their silence.

Thank you for your time,

Yours in Scouting,

Geoffrey C. McGrath, MSW
RBUMC Youth Leader of Troop 98
Eagle Scout 1983

The Packet contains these documents:

Washington Governor Jay Inslee
Seattle's Mayor and all nine City Councilmembers
Rod Dembowski, King County Councilmember, District 1
King County Executive Dow Constantine
King County Councilman Dave Upthegrove
40 Washington State legislators
Washington State Congressional Delegation

Friday, May 16, 2014

Open Letter to Seattle Public Schools

[UPDATE 6/13/2014: Click for the response from SPS to this letter]

Dear Mr. José Banda, Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools
By way of introduction, I am Scoutmaster of Troop 98 operating out of the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church. This Troop is no longer affiliated with the Chief Seattle Council (CSC) nor the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) at their request, because of their policy of anti-gay discrimination (institutional homophobia).
BSA generally and CSC in particular is an employer that discriminates against LGBT in all its employment practices. As such it is in violation of city codes as well as policies within the district. Additionally it is in violation of equal employment codes of the state of Washington. These facts and obligations are well-documented and accessible in this document published by the OSPI:
The discrimination of BSA and CSC is well documented in the public record, and is referred to directly in these recent letters from our elected officials--I urge you to review them: 
Seattle Public Schools (SPS) permits so-called "non-discriminating" programs of CSC called "Learning for Life" (LFL) (sometimes also called "Exploring") and “Scoutreach.” These programs just like all other programs of BSA discriminate against LGBT employment.

I would like to be clear on this point: LFL and Scoutreach program employees are operating under contract or other inter-operation with SPS. They are Chief Seattle Council employees. LFL is owned and operated by local BSA Councils. As they are Council/BSA employees, they are subject to BSA's membership and employment standards -- which means no LGBT BSA employees, in LFL or any other program. BSA and LFL are not separate entities, and as far as I know BSA is the only non-denominational youth organization that has such an explicit policy regarding LGBT employees.

Sir, it is critical for the Seattle Public Schools to become compliant under the law. Please let me know as soon as possible your plans to end further inter-operation between SPS and CSC.


Geoffrey C. McGrath, MSW
geoffrey. mcgrath @