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?