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 @

Open Letter to United Way of King County

To: Jon Fine, Executive Director, United Way of King County
via Jared Erlandson

Date: May 16 2014

Dear Mr. Fine,

Thank you for the outreach extended by Jared Erlandson on the question of the Boy Scouts of America, Inc. (BSA) and Chief Seattle Council Inc. (CSC) relationship and access to the United Way funding stream.

Perhaps you are aware of the recent events of overt discrimination that have been experienced by the community of Rainier Beach in recent weeks at the hands of the BSA in the revoking the charter to operate Troop 98 and Pack 98  ( You may also know that the Bylaws of the Chief Seattle Council make clear that the local council is a creature of National--that by virtue of its conveyance clauses it is unable and unwilling to act independently. This was demonstrated recently in on May 15 2014 in the press of statements on the part of Scout Exec Sharon Moulds (

Our concern is that United Way of King County should be free of taint on the grounds of religious or anti-gay discrimination. Currently United Way permits individuals to designate BSA and/or CSC as recipients of directed giving. Additionally, UWKC funds a “non-discriminating” program of CSC called “Learning for Life” sometimes also called “Exploring.”) (LFL). “Scoutreach” is another program of CSC/BSA and has the same discriminatory employment practices.

I would like to be clear on this point: LFL and Scoutreach employees are Council employees. Both are owned and operated by local BSA Councils. As they are Council/BSA employees, they are subject to BSA's membership standards -- which means there are no LGBT BSA employees in these programs, just as there are none in any other CSC or BSA program. As far as I know BSA is the only non-denominational youth organization that has such an explicit policy regarding LGBT employees.

BSA and CSC are not hate groups. But they are neglect groups. These organizations in their institutional policies neglect the needs of gay and lesbian youth as well as the needs of their adult members and employees (who of course are required to remain closeted). This neglect blights the lives of BSA and CSC members and employees. The actions of CSC and BSA legitimizes the discrimination of others. Just as UWKC does not fund hate-groups, so it should not fund neglect groups such as Chief Seattle Council and the Boy Scouts of America.

Just as UWKC would not facilitate nor fund a hate group nor their hate-lite program, so they should avoid funding or facilitating the funding of neglect groups such as CSC and BSA for the same reasons.

Last year UWKC funded LFL for at least $91,000 ( -- not counting any additional directed funding through your organization’s channels to CSC or BSA. While this is down from over $600,000 in annual funding from the ‘90’s, continuing to fund these organizations is dilutive of your overall excellent commitment to transparency and negatively impacts the consistency of your message that you do not fund discriminators. In 1992 Clydean Zuckerman, vice president for marketing at United Way of King County said, "We're not going to move quickly to take sides. It's legally complex and very divisive." ( It was reported that UWKC firmed up it’s commitment to equality in in 2000 (, but has yet to fully deliver on its promise.

We bring this matter to your attention because it is through working together that we can help BSA and CSC come to its senses and provide equitable and appropriate services to ALL youth.

Be aware we are working with the Seattle Foundation on this as well as the Seattle Public Schools, the City of Seattle Parks and Recreations Departments, as well as other major funders both corporate and individual to end this ugliness once and for all in our town. We would welcome knowing your plans to fully and transparently communicate to the citizens of Seattle your intention to end further funding of BSA and CSC. The clearest statement is wanted.

It may be that UWKC requires some time to come up with a statement. In the meantime perhaps a statement to the effect that “The United Way of King County is deeply concerned about recent actions of the Chief Seattle Council and the Boy Scouts of America and is reviewing actions we can take across all our programs to ensure there is no further violation of our own commitment to not fund non-religious discriminators.”

Certainly the status quo is inadequate to the challenge, Let me know how you prefer best to proceed in this.


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

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Offer from BSA

Sometimes it is difficult to understand how institutional anti-gay bias (technical term for this is institutional homophobia) works, but the lessons of the last five weeks in Rainier Beach have shown a light on aspects of this.

Troop 98 began forming in the summer of 2013. It was intended at its inception to be a fully inclusive troop, in both the youth and adult membership. It started out as an idea born in our community, as a way to bring after-school program opportunities to youth in our under-served, diverse neighborhood. A committee was formed and we agreed to be fully inclusive in our membership requirements on the question of sexual orientation, discussing the label "LGBTQS" (where "S" stands for "Straight" and implies we're all on the same equality boat together, not on different boats) and our commitment to skills and values training, as well as our commitment to providing service to the community. The idea of the Troop was adopted by the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church, the congregation that I attend, and became the core of their new youth ministry. I was asked to be their Youth Leader (which is funny, because while at 49 I'm not old, still I'm not a youth!). Thus was born Troop 98. Next step was to achieve a partnership to provide program materials, branding and uniforms to our Troop.

Our committee reviewed several options, and agreed to explore partnering with the BSA first. We selected BSA because our committee members consisted of Eagle Scouts and had deep experience with the BSA programming. Additionally, we were encouraged by the vote taken in May 2013 anticipating a membership policy change to begin including LGBTQ people. We reasoned that BSA might be willing to experiment with us even ahead of the policy change, and in meeting with them we were gratified to find they agreed, granting us a Charter in the Fall of 2013.

Fast forward to today (5/10/2014). It has been three weeks since the charter for Troop 98 and Pack 98 to use the program materials was revoked, and five weeks since my lifetime membership in BSA was revoked. Which puts the troop back into its operating position that we had prior to having a Charter back in the fall.

Since that time, while I was out of town, connections between members of Troop 98 leadership and Council have been maintained, and options were developed by BSA to re-establish a chartered presence in Rainier Beach. The negotiations resulted in a phone call to me, followed by a meeting at my house after Thunderbird District Meeting on Wednesday 5/7/2014. The results of the phone call were documented in an e-mail back to BSA personnel--and were reviewed in the meeting that night. Here is the relevant portion:
Thank you for your communications to me today. By way of summary, we discussed the possibility of Troop 98, which is currently operating unaffiliated with the BSA, establishing a new Charter with the BSA, but with the following provisions [recommended by BSA]:
  1. It would be formed by the parents, under a rubric such as "Concerned Parents for Equal Scouting"
  2. It could include all persons who were in the old Troop Charter established in the Fall of 2013, with the exception that Geoffrey McGrath and Monica Corsaro must not be on the application.
  3. That two new adults would have to be identified and added to the charter documents, that they must pass the BSA requirements, and must also not be "out" as gays or lesbians, at least as far as BSA is concerned.
  4. The charter application would have an address of record elsewhere than the current address of RBUMC at 5500 S Roxbury St.
  5. The Troop could maintain its current designation as Troop 98. Likewise for the Pack as Pack 98.
  6. That as to the day-to-day operation of Troop 98 and Pack 98, there need otherwise be no change--where meetings are actually held makes no never-mind to anyone outside of the units in question, and the parents could have whomever actually leading the program completely up to them--the paperwork is the only thing in question, and the goal would be to have clean paperwork that would pass Council and National's review.
  7. It wasn't stated, but presumably there would be an expectation that any non-parent gay adult participation would be kept on the down-low. That gay parents could fully participate but could not be formal Adult Leader members of BSA.
I think this pretty much outlines your thoughts about how to do this--of course once the anti-gay policies change at National BSA then there would be no restriction to LGBT participation from that point on. Hopefully at that point the ban on Pastor Monica and myself would also be lifted.
Have I missed any particular point? If so please clarify and/or expand. Also perhaps we should think about how this would likely play out in the months to come. I do have some concerns, including that this is a fairly complicated and hard-to-explain protocol, that it is flimsy cover in the event things end up in the press again, and I'm unclear the new Charter would enjoy better support and defense from Council or National than the old. So help me understand.
In the meeting the BSA personnel agreed this was was a fair representation of their offer. I indicated that relationship damage between Pastor Monica Corsaro and BSA caused by the interferance in her staffing decision and the resulting Charter revocation would require immediate attention, and that for discussions to continue she would of course have to be included. I suggested it might take us several weeks to several months before we could arrive at an agreeable solution to the current situation, and requested patience and forbearance during our deliberations and future negotiations.

Due to the lateness of the hour the meeting ended with certain mutual commitments--to stay engaged, to seek protection from claims of misuse of BSA intellectual property in relation to my wearing of the uniform, and to maintain a collegial atmosphere and respectful communications. Additionally BSA personnel agreed a neckerchief slide would be secured to be presented to one of our immigrant youth who had lost his.

We remain hopeful that something can be worked out to our mutual satisfaction, and that if we all work carefully and with full consideration of each others needs and concerns that the good will and effective inter-operation between the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church with it's Youth Ministry can be worked out with the Thunderbird District and the Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

Pending resolution, Troop 98 and Pack 98 continue to grow, welcoming two kids new to the program last week. The youngest kids aren't impacted by the disruption introduced by BSA at all, and the older kids are already anticipating the possibility of a uniform and program change should negotiations fail with BSA. All of us remain dedicated to providing the best program we know how (and we know a  lot!), and the kids are fully engaged in planning for their next outings and honing their wilderness and community service skills.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Scouting's Trail of Tears--What Comfort Can Be Given?

This is an example communication, one of many, that I have received recently:
A leader in a Troop contacted me as she's concerned that some of their Troop's leadership is considering leaving Scouting due to their anger about how you and your Troop were treated. As they form the leadership for the Pack that feeds the Troop, their leaving would likely end the Troop as well. The leader I spoke to, who is also a State Legislator, believes passionately that they should stay to help change Scouting from within, and to make sure their boys get the opportunities Scouting has to offer, and at her request I'm visiting their Troop this Thursday to try and talk with the leaders about staying on. I was wondering if you might be willing to write them a short note sharing your thoughts on staying in Scouting that I could share with them then. It is of course their choice ultimately, but I think that your opinion would mean a great deal to them as it was how you were treated that really inspired them to get up and do something. Let me know if you could help with that, and if I can ever help you with anything!
Here is my response:
Dear Fellow Scout,

These Scouts you've told me about have decided that they would rather leave the BSA than stay in an organization that forces them to ditch certain members of the Scouting community. They don't want to be forced to make that choice--they feel their bonds to their fellows, both theoretical and actual, should be primary. They cannot see how they can continue to participate in BSA without ALSO ditching the kids in Pack 98 and Troop 98. Frankly, they're right.

They value the ideals in the Oath and Law higher than their membership in the BSA Corporation. Who can fault them for that?

Imagine if all Scouts in the country similarly held true to the Oath and Law and did the same thing. Would not BSA Incorporated make the change immediately, the change that we all want and need?
If I speak to them and urge them to stay in, am I hastening the change we seek, or am I slowing it down? Because I feel great urgency that the change should come--that it should come quickly, and that every delay puts kids at daily risk. Not theoretical--actual risk with real consequences that are measured in blighted lives and lost treasure.

If all of us agree to NEVER AGAIN ditch our brothers and sisters in this movement then this problem is solved. It doesn't even require a policy change. In fact it never did. It just requires us to live out oaths of loyalty and fellowship, to move from aspirational to actual. That change happens in a heartbeat, and when each of us feels it burning in our chest we know exactly what must be done.
If they can find a way to stay within and not ditch their friends (and I've posted some ideas about how to do that on my FB timeline), then they might want to consider doing that. If it is too painful and they feel they must leave, then they might want to think about how they can do it in a way that helps bring the change sooner--and that means leaving in the grandest way they can. That might mean finding other Packs and Troops, linking with them and all leaving together in a grand gesture.

Whether they stay or leave, what they must never do (and I think this is what they already understand), is they must never ditch, nor permitted to ditch, nor in any other way force from their bounds of love and fellowship, their fellow Scouts, simply because of a difference such as being gay.
I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.