Guest Blogger

LA Police Commission to Consider Ending Ties with Boy Scouts

Filed By Guest Blogger | October 20, 2009 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Action Alerts, Politics
Tags: Boy Scouts of America, BSA, LA Police Commission, Los Angeles, Robert Olivarez

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Robert Olivarez is Los Angeles area Latino gay grass roots activist. He loves his community and works to do his part to make sure that Latinos and the LGBTQ community work together and for each other so that we all may enjoy equality and fight discrimination.

Robert_Olivarez.jpgThe Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has established an "Explorer Program (Explorers)" that is run by an organization called "Learning for Life (LFL)." The Explorers program is designed to " ...recruit qualified young men and women and prepare them for future careers in law enforcement." Learning for Life is a full subsidiary of the Boy Scouts of America. They share the same corporate headquarters and LFL staff members are also Boy Scouts of America (BSA) staff members. Should the LAPD have the Boy Scouts of America administering the LAPD Explorer program?

The Boy Scouts do not consider gay people to be "morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed." Doesn't that declare us to be immoral, dirty and dishonest? In their eyes it means that gay people should not be scout leaders nor employed by the Boy Scouts of America.

Read for your self, this is the Boy Scouts of America official policy statement:

"Boy Scouts of America believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed. The conduct of youth members must be in compliance with the Scout Oath and Law, and membership in Boy Scouts of America is contingent upon the willingness to accept Scouting's values and beliefs. Most boys join Scouting when they are 10 or 11 years old. As they continue in the program, all Scouts are expected to take leadership positions. In the unlikely event that an older boy were to hold himself out as homosexual, he would not be able to continue in a youth leadership position."

More Boy Scout Policies:

Volunteer Adult Leadership

"Boy Scouts of America believes that a known or avowed homosexual is not an appropriate role model of the Scout Oath and Law for adolescent boys."

Employment

"Boy Scouts of America will not employ atheists, agnostics, known or avowed homosexuals, or others as professional Scouters or in other capacities in which such employment would tend to interfere with its mission of reinforcing the values of the Scout Oath and the Scout Law in young people."

Boy Scouts & Youth Leaders

"Most boys join Scouting when they are 10 or 11 years old. As they continue in the program, all Scouts are expected to take leadership positions. In the unlikely event that an older boy were to hold himself out as homosexual, he would not be able to continue in a youth leadership position."

Boys Scouts of America policy statements source.

Time to End the LAPD-Boys Scouts-Learning for Life Contract!

The LAPD Explorers program for youth is administered and run by the Boy Scouts of America! Yes, the same Boy Scouts that discriminate against anyone they want by claiming that they are equivalent to a religious organization and that they have the freedom of association! The Supreme Court has ruled in their favor on this basis. And on that level I can understand the ruling. But it does not require the LAPD or any other government organization to maintain any contracts with the Boy Scouts. So why has the Los Angeles Police Commission failed to end their contract with the Boy Scouts of America?

Many government and police agencies have ended their contracts with the Boy Scouts and Learning for Life, including the San Diego Police Department. The LA Fire Department recently ended their contract with the Boys Scouts and Learning for Life. The Mayor of Los Angeles has spoken out in favor of ending the relationship. The LA City Attorney's Office has issued an opinion that the contract with Learning for Life should be ended or the boy Scouts should formally adopt a non-discrimination policy that prohibits discrimination against LGBTQ members, employees and leaders.

One argument frequently used by the Learning for Life and Boy Scouts of America defenders is that the strong participation of Latino and African American youth in the LAPD Explorer program means they, Learning for Life, should continue to administer the program. The LAPD should protect and defend the laws of the state of California and the city of Los Angeles. These laws require non-discrimination in their policies and practices. That is the best example we can send to Latino and African American youth, and to all youth, that the LAPD does not endorse discrimination and that all youth have a right to participate regardless of sexual orientation.

I vote. I am a citizen. I pay taxes. I am also a gay Latino community activist. I want all the best opportunities for all youth, including youth of color. That includes LGBTQ youth. I do not want another young gay, bi or transgendered young person to feel the pain of not belonging, and I want all youth to know that the LAPD Explorer program is for all youth even if they are gay or lesbian! There are many capable groups that can administer a LAPD Explorer program. I call on the LA Police Commission to follow the lead of the LA Fire Commission and vote to end the contract with Learning for Life!

Take action:

Email the LA Police Commissioners and ask them to end the Learning for Life contract.

Attend the LA Police Commission Meeting this morning at 9:30 am:

Police Administration Building (the new building)
Police Commission Board Room
100 West 1ST Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

The defenders of the Boy Scouts of America and their discriminatory practices are already emailing the LA Police Commissioners and they will be out in force. Will you?


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The Los Angeles Police Commission has delayed a decision for two weeks so please keep the emails coming and let them know it is important to end this Boy Scouts/Learning for Life contract!

Robert Olivarez
Latinos 4 Marriage Equality!
http://twitter.com/Latinos4ME

Who is the current LAPD Police Chief, and what is his position on this?

I'm certain that, despite official policy changes, much of the institutional homophobia that Daryl Gates actively encouraged during the early 1990's still shows up in the rank and file --- and LAPD doesn't need this association with BSA in order to augment its long-entrenched expertise at sending mixed messages about its "dedication" to non-discrimination.

Matt Mirmak | October 20, 2009 4:59 PM

As an Eagle Scout (1987, Troop 616, Irvine CA, Orange County Council), I find the current environment of the BSA to go against the principles of the Scout Oath and Law. Nowhere in our literature did it state that praciticing bigotry and dsicrimination is considered "morally straight."

On a related note, I am part of an organization called Scouting For All that is looking to repeal the current discriminatory policies of the BSA. I would like to talk to you about our plans for a nationwide candlelight vigil for LGBT youth that will coincide with the BSA's 100th birthday (Feb. 2010) and would appreciate any support that we can get from the Los Angeles LGBT community.

Steven Bradford | October 20, 2009 5:47 PM

Unless the policy has been changed in the last year or so, the LFL programs, including the Explorer program, do not officially discriminate against gays. The traditional scouting program does, yes.

Boy Scouts of America will not employ atheists, agnostics, known or avowed homosexuals, or others...

I think it's great that this article is addressing the BSA's discrimination against gays and bisexuals, but what about atheists and agnostics? It's equally terrible that an organization that engages in religious discrimination is sharing a partnership with government institutions.

A lot of homophobia is based upon religious belief. Hence, homophobia often represents a form of religious discrimination. Should we not be vocal against all forms of religious discrimination rather than simply the forms that effect us personally?

I agree with you 1000% --- the BSA is teaching young boys that if you do not believe in a Supreme Being specifically, then you cannot be "morally straight" etc. In other words, they are engendering suspicion and distrust, at best, and discrimination at worst toward atheists/agnostics that the boys might later interact with as adults. (Luckily, just as we had to, many adolescents figure out that some of the things they were taught as children were bullshit --- and increasingly so.)

But the BSA has legally "defined" themselves as a religious group, and the highest court in America has bought in to this crock of pig poop. So it will be very difficult indeed to legally force the BSA to accept atheists and agnostics --- even though there is almost no connection between atheism and the quality of one's trustworthiness and moral character whatsoever.

We can only hope that someday they will see the true nature of their service and, as Jesus would have done, voluntarily choose to accept all boys without such silly restrictions.

Regan DuCasse | October 21, 2009 10:16 PM

I am a proud member of Scouting For All for the last eight years. I was also a Girl Scout and I'm a member of the LAPD in the SID dept. I agree that LAPD should cut it's ties since the BSA is teaching that discrimination against those of differing religious belief (non belief) and sexual orientation, can be ignored as 'morally straight', and hypocrisy is a moral value.

How come the Girl Scouts don't have this problem?

allison coche | October 22, 2009 4:09 PM

How can the LAPD allow a religious organization to administer any of its programs? The KKK is also a religious organization (and if you read their covenants a very strong parallel exists between them and the Mormon Church). Perhaps the LAPD is interested in allowing the Ku Klux Klan to administer a key program for them?