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On May 23, 2013, the Boy Scouts of America’s National Council voted to stop denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation. The change goes into effect Jan. 1, 2014. The similar restriction for adult leaders, however, will remain in place.
When asked about the policy change by KCTV5 reporter Justin Schmidt, Eagle Scout Jason Boyer expressed his hope for further progress: “I think they could go a lot farther because they’re still telling all these kids that they’re bad. They’re telling them, ‘as soon as you turn 18, you’re no longer good enough’ so I still think they have some ways to go, but they’re making progress.”
The resolution allowing openly gay and bisexual youth members came after the most comprehensive listening exercise in BSA’s history. Sixty-one percent (757 yeas) of 1,232 voting members approved the change. Noting that Scouting has the best youth-protection program around, BSA president Wayne Perry affirmed, “Kids are better off in Scouting.”
The scout movement
British war hero Robert Baden-Powell had used boys as scouts during conflict in South Africa. Based on his experiences there, Baden-Powell wrote manuals on military reconnaissance and scout training. After learning that some schools had been using his manuals to teach observation and deduction, he decided to revise and combine them into a handbook, written specifically for young males.
Initially published as installments in 1908, his Scouting for Boys: A Handbook for Instruction in Good Citizenship came out one year after Baden-Powell had tested his methodology at Brownsea Island Scout camp in southern England. This camp is seen as the original event of the scout movement. Baden-Powell used observation, deduction, woodcraft, camping, boating, lifesaving, chivalry and patriotism as tools to shape the character of boys with the intention of building good, strong, honest, hard-working citizens. Baden-Powell set up a central Boy Scouts office, and over the next few years, the organization grew by leaps and bounds. He created Girl Guides as a separate group.
Boy Scouts of America
The scout movement spread over the globe, especially in the British Commonwealth. In 1910, publisher William D. Boyce founded the U.S. version of Baden-Powell’s Boy Scouts. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed a congressional charter for the group. Over the decades, the BSA has reached out in new ways, amid wartime, civil flux and societal advancement. The Boy Scouts of America’s official manual, the Boy Scout Handbook, is in its 12th edition.
Although it is technically part of the World Organization of the Scout Movement’s Interamerican Scout Region, the BSA maintains its own governing structure and makes its own rules. One requirement for scout troops is that each unit has a sponsoring institution. Based on Dec. 31, 2012, data, 70 percent of all units were chartered to faith-based organizations. The faith-based organization that sponsors the most units (by far) is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormons). The Mormons were early adopters of BSA. It’s reported that every single U.S.-based LDS church sponsors a troop, and the troops are integral parts of Mormon boys’ lives. This church’s response to any change in membership policy would be critical.
The gay ban
The language used to restrict gay people from the Boy Scouts of America membership was at one time fairly harsh, citing the Scout Oath’s “morally straight” requirement and the Scout Law’s “clean in word and deed” clause. Although not explicitly stated in the early years, the implicitly understood BSA policy was later verbalized: “that a known or avowed homosexual is not an appropriate role model of the Scout Oath and Law.”
Boy Scouts of America v. Dale was a huge case for the BSA. In 1990, assistant scoutmaster James Dale publicly stated that he was gay during an interview unrelated to the BSA. Due to this acknowledgment, he was removed from his leadership position with Scouting. He sued. The New Jersey Supreme Court held that the state’s public accommodations law required the BSA to readmit Dale. But the U.S. Supreme Court reversed that decision, finding that based on the First Amendment right of freedom of association, a state could not, through nondiscrimination statutes, prohibit a private organization from discriminating as to its membership.
In recent years, words and methods began to be parsed more gently. A 2000 press release stated, “Boy Scouting makes no effort to discover the sexual orientation of any person.” However, there were cases where members were dismissed when their homosexuality became known to the organization. This seems to be true primarily of adults in leadership positions, but with gay people coming out as teens and pre-teens, the issue of openly gay youth members was set to become salient.
Nevertheless, in 2012, the BSA reaffirmed its discriminatory membership policy position:
While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA. Scouting believes same-sex attraction should be introduced and discussed outside of its program with parents, caregivers, or spiritual advisers, at the appropriate time and in the right setting.
One of the problems, however, was that Scouting continued to use public land, spaces and buildings for free or at much-reduced rates, while essentially retaining full discretionary power to violate state and municipal nondiscrimination laws at will. Certain tax-paying citizens were subsidizing the operation of the group while being barred from membership to it. So people continued to sue and the equality-minded frowned upon the blatant, not-so-private discrimination.
With opposition growing, pressure was mounting on the BSA to reverse its policy. Major health groups affirmed that homosexuality is not a mental illness. The number of nondiscrimination ordinances was multiplying. Corporate policies realigned. Marriage equality was becoming a common reality. Friends and families recognized their gay and lesbian members as equals. Corporate sponsors were pulling funds from Scouting. Incoming and current BSA brass soon hinted that they would work internally to change the restriction.
In February 2013, the Boy Scouts of America embarked on an elaborate and thoughtful listening program, taking in the counsel, advice and opinions of many groups, including youth, parents, local and national councils, chartered organizations, finance streams and legal advisers. Youth protection and policies of peer organizations were also reviewed. The outcome was a recommendation made to voting members to change the youth membership policy. The LDS church released a statement in support of the proposal. And on May 23, the BSA National Council members cast their votes, approving it.
Some groups were outraged at the move toward equality, including the Southern Baptist Convention, which passed a resolution expressing its disappointment. Randy Thomasson of SaveCalifornia.com advocated for starting a new homosexual-free scouting organization. And GOP Rep. Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma called reformers “intolerant bullies” who had targeted the BSA, rather than forming their own group.
If your troop has an LGBT-unfriendly sponsoring institution, consider asking a welcoming congregation to sponsor your scout unit.
Groups that welcome LGB youth and leaders
Girl Scouts of America — girlscouts.org
Camp Fire — campfire.org
Big Brothers Big Sisters — bbbs.org
Although progress is being made, the acceptance of transgender people as youth members and in leadership roles in many pre-teen and adolescent-focused groups is likely lagging and/or ambiguous. In 2011, after initially rejecting a transgender girl, the Girl Scouts of Colorado decided to welcome her as a member and restate its policy more clearly.
See Camp’s “Youth and Young Adult Links” — bit.ly/14uHbWt — for more youth activities and local groups that target LGBT young people.
Worldwide opera star Renée Fleming will perform in Kansas City on Thursday night, November 18, but the day before, she'll be part of a panel discussion for "Music and the Mind" — a conversation about how music affects the brain, cognitive development, healing and quality of life.
WHAT: Music and the Mind with Renée Fleming
WHEN: Wednesday, Nov 17, 2021
TIME: 4:00-5:30 PM
WHERE: The 1900 Building, 1900 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Mission Woods, KS, 66205
Music has a profound impact and the ability to shape 86 billion neurons in the brain for cognitive development, healing, and therapy. Science research has clearly shown that music therapy interventions can improve quality of life across nearly all neurological disorders. And there is tremendous public-interest in applying music to creative aging, childhood development, and community wellness.
But scientists want to know more.
Join soprano Renée Fleming and a distinguished panel of local Kansas City experts in neurology, music therapy, music and healing, and more for this cutting-edge discussion. Audience members will be able to participate in a Q&A following the panel discussion.
*Please note this Music and the Mind Event is not a musical performance*
As Artistic Advisor at Large to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Renée Fleming has spearheaded a collaboration with the National Institutes of Health, with the participation of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The Sound Health initiative explores and brings attention to research and practice at the intersection of music, health, and neuroscience. This collaboration has led to workshops at the NIH, and events and performances at the Kennedy Center. This initiative has also led the NIH to recently award $20 million dollars in funding for music and neuroscience research over five years.
As part of her advocacy, Fleming is also advisor to the recently launched NEA/UCSF Sound Health Network and co-chair of the Aspen Institute/Johns Hopkins NeuroArts Blueprint, both working to advance the field of arts and health.
This event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Please call the Harriman-Jewell Series at 816-415-5025 to reserve your seat.
WHAT: Renée Fleming, soprano in recital
WHEN: Thursday, Nov 18, 2021
TIME: 7:00 PM
WHERE: Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
COST: Tickets from $25.00 *discounts available for students, educators, first responders, active duty military and veterans with valid I.D.
Pair a glorious voice with a winning personality and you have a diva for the ages. Renée Fleming is a longstanding Harriman-Jewell Series favorite. With her many television and Broadway appearances, Fleming has been embraced by music lovers of all genres.
Whether singing at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, the Olympics, or Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, Renée Fleming represents opera to the world. In addition to her numerous operatic performances, Fleming often works classic show tunes and the Great American Songbook into her recitals. Fleming’s trademark rapport with audiences will give her Kansas City performance a warmth that is personal and sincere.
Rob Ainsley is pianist for the recital. His diverse career as a musician, conductor, educator, and administrator has taken him to top organizations and colleges from coast to coast. He now serves as Director of the Washington National Opera’s Cafritz Young Artists and American Opera Initiative. Ainsley performed with Renée Fleming in The Metropolitan Opera’s August 2020 “Met Stars Live in Concert” that was streamed worldwide.
ABOUT THE HARRIMAN-JEWELL SERIES
Renée Fleming's recital will mark the 977th performance since the Series was founded in 1965. From free education events that allow interaction with musicians and dancers, to our free Discovery Concerts that are open to the community, the Harriman-Jewell Series continues to offer life-enriching opportunities for its community's youth and lifelong learners.
Whether you're spreading truth, information, or love, traveling abroad for humanitarian reasons can have risks. Detained American journalist in Myanmar, Danny Fenster, is to be released from jail, and to fly home soon. But it doesn't always end well for every foreign national attempting to do good in a foreign country.
The missionaries consisting of sixteen Americans and one Canadian kidnapped by the Haitian “400 Mawozo” gang on October 16, is extremely scary. The gang has threatened to kill the humanitarian Christians if a million dollar per person ransom is not fulfilled. The group consists of men, women, children and an eight-month-old baby.
These missionaries have sacrificed their time and paid their own way to go to the poorest place in the Western hemisphere to try to spread God’s love and save some souls. In turn, the missionaries are experiencing a nightmare like they’ve never imagined. They’re imprisoned and being threatened with a bullet in the head.
Most of us will never get over seeing journalists being beheaded and tortured in Syria and Iraq by the barbaric Islamic extremist group called ISIL. Burning people alive and beheading others were too graphic and gruesome to ever be forgotten.
Years ago, I traveled to a third world country on a “missionary trip” with others thinking it would be a nice break. I’ve never worked so hard in my life.
Sadly, the 17 missionaries in Haiti are undergoing a cruel experience that may end with the cost of their very lives. What are they thinking now? What is going through the minds of the little children who traveled to a world to help others and spread God’s love?
Haiti has been the site of years of humanitarian efforts. The United States and other countries have given billions of dollars to help Haiti. Sadly, hurricanes, political unrest, underdevelopment and extreme poverty have all made for a sad scenario.
How much money would the world have to give to Haiti to make life better for this nation? This is a question no one can answer because usually aid is a short-term solution. We spent a trillion dollars in Afghanistan and they aren’t any better off today.
Good missionary people went to Haiti with good hearts for helping others in the name of God’s love. They went to share a message they hoped would bring about change and better lives. They may now lose their lives.
Christians point to Jesus as the model for such missionary efforts. He came preaching and teaching in an effort to demonstrate and spread God’s love and it cost him plenty – his life, executed in public on a cross.
There are some Christians today who, like Jesus, are willing to risk their lives for the sake of others. Did these men and women literally go to Haiti taking their children with them truly believe they could be killed? Would they purposefully do this to their children? Who convinced these people that such a trip with small children was a good idea?
My goal here is to simply say, think about such trips to places like Haiti. Afghanistan, Iraq, Northern Nigeria and numerous others countries are not vacation spots. Foreign travel may sound exotic and adventurous but consider the possible cost.
Many missionaries and Christian workers have paid the ultimate price in order to spread the gospel of Christ. Only eternity will reveal what their selfless sacrifice has meant to those whose lives they impacted.
By chance, if you decide such an international trip is not for you, don’t feel bad. Consider helping in an American inner city, Appalachia or maybe your own neighborhood. Service at home is needed across America.
Let’s pray for the safety of these missionaries and for those negotiating their release. May God help them and all who may consider such endeavors.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Glenn Mollette is a graduate of numerous schools including Georgetown College, Southern and Lexington Seminaries in Kentucky. He is the author of 13 books including Uncommon Sense, Grandpa's Store, Minister's Guidebook: insights from a fellow minister. His column is published weekly in over 600 publications in all 50 states. Glenn Mollette has been on numerous International humanitarian and missionary group trips. Hear Glenn Mollette every weekday morning EST at 8:56 on XM radio 131. Editor-If you need to tweak or do a small edit for you paper or website that is okay. Please respond to this email if you need a picture for this column. Scroll down for additional biographical info. Buy his latest recording titled "Black Coffee" on iTunes. Learn more at www.glennmollette.com
The Black Trans Fund, incubated at Groundswell Fund, and Grantmakers for Girls of Color launched the Holding a Sister Initiative, the first-ever national fund explicitly dedicated to transgender girls and gender-expansive youth of color.
Dr. Monique W. Morris, president and CEO of Grantmakers for Girls of Color, and Bré Rivera, program director of the Black Trans Fund are together spearheading the Holding a Sister Initiative to bring attention and resources to organizations supporting trans girls of color, normalize concern and investment in their success, and create learning opportunities for cis and trans girls of color to move in deeper community with one another.
The initiative will award $1 million in grants in the first year, and will ultimately engage trans girls and gender-expansive youth of color in the decision-making process for selecting grantees on an ongoing basis.
While there has been an increase in donor attention to work led by people of color, it has yet to translate into significant gains in funding for trans and gender-expansive youth of color.
According to recent regional studies in Detroit, South Florida and New Orleans, trans women of color face higher levels of hunger, homelessness, unemployment, incarceration and discrimination. At the same time, the majority of this year's record-breaking anti-trans legislation are targeted to affect youth, including bills that prevent transgender athletes from playing in school sports and the "Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act." Research has show sharp rises in suicide attempts among trans youth during 2020 and 2021.
"The reality is transgender and gender-expansive youth of color require more attention, and resources to interrupt the staggering intersections of trauma and crises they experience," said Bré Rivera.
The initiative joins existing funding intermediaries who have been leading the work to resource trans communities and engage trans people in the direction and distribution of resources, including the Third Wave Fund, the Black Trans Travel Fund, and Fund for Trans Generations. As funding partners, the Black Trans Fund and Grantmakers for Girls of Color aim to expand and transform philanthropy's investments in trans and gender-nonconforming youth. The initiative will move resources to organizations serving and led by trans girls and young women of color. It will also amplify narratives that elevate the humanity, dignity and leadership of trans and gender-expansive youth of color, as well as the ways their experiences and contributions have been overlooked, minimized and targeted by oppositional and systemic forces, and larger social justice movements.
The Holding a Sister Initiative will be led by a manager, who will steward culture change through grantmaking, capacity building, narrative shifting and philanthropic organizing. The position is currently open for applicants.
About Grantmakers for Girls of Color
Fiscally-sponsored by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Grantmakers for Girls of Color (G4GC) works to mobilize resources and amplify transformative organizing work to dismantle systems of oppression led by girls and gender-expansive youth of color. Grantmakers for Girls of Color openly invites partners and stakeholders to co-create an inclusive space in support of girls, young women, and gender-expansive youth of color across programmatic issues and geographic areas. Learn more by visiting Grantmakers for Girls of Color.
About the Black Trans Fund
The Black Trans Fund is a groundbreaking endeavor: the first national fund in the country dedicated to uplifting and resourcing Black trans social justice leaders. BTF seeks to address the lack of funding for Black trans communities in the U.S. through direct grantmaking, capacity building support, and funder organizing to transform philanthropy. Learn more by visiting Black Trans Fund.