Midland home school group shocked to learn Boy Scout program counselor is homosexual activist|
from the 'Youth' topic
Author: Gary Glenn
"A Christian home schooling organization in Midland, Michigan was shocked this month to learn that a youth program sponsored, funded, and promoted by the local Boy Scout council lists a prominent homosexual activist and attorney as the counselor for teens interested in pursuing a career in law"
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MIDLAND, Michigan -- A statewide traditional values group Friday said it is dismayed to have to warn parents that they cannot rely on the Boy Scouts of America to shield children in all Scout-sponsored programs from exposure to openly homosexual adult leaders, despite the BSA's well-known position that such adults are not appropriate role models for young people.
The American Family Association of Michigan said a Christian home schooling organization in Midland, Michigan was shocked this month to learn that a youth program sponsored, funded, and promoted by the local Boy Scout council lists a prominent homosexual activist and attorney as the counselor for teens interested in pursuing a career in law.
The Christian Home Educators of Midland's April newsletter unknowingly published information about the Scout-funded "Learning for Life" program provided by the Lake Huron Area Council (BSA), listing the name and phone number of Midland attorney Paul Wright as the contact person for parents interested in further information. Wright is the founder of a homosexual employees group at Dow Chemical Company and is president of the Michigan chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, a national homosexual activist group. (http://www.freep.com/news/census/gay4_20010804.htm and www.lcr.org/chapters.asp)
AFA-Michigan President Gary Glenn, Midland, said that upon learning about Wright's background, the home school group's leadership instructed its newsletter editor to no longer publish any information provided by the Boy Scouts.
"Obviously, parents who believed they could trust the Boy Scouts carte blanche to protect their children feel their trust has been violated," said Glenn, himself an Eagle Scout, former adult Scout leader, and a member of the BSA's Order of the Arrow and National Eagle Scouts Association. Glenn's wife Annette is currently a Cub Scout pack leader after serving three years as a den mother; three of their boys are actively involved in local Scouting programs.
Glenn quoted his wife's reaction to the revelation, referring to local Scout council officials: "They violated the first principle of the Scout law: a Scout is trustworthy."
Glenn said he very reluctantly decided to issue a public warning to parents after discussing the issue privately with local council staff over several weeks and receiving no assurance that Wright or other homosexual activists will not serve as "Learning for Life" counselors in the future.
"For someone who's been involved in Scouting since grade school, the local council staff's doubletalk was astonishing and extremely disappointing," he said. "It's precisely because of how much my family and others cherish Scouting's traditional values that we cannot remain silent after Scout officials refused to assure us that homosexual activists will no longer serve as leaders and role models for a clearly Scout-sponsored program."
According to Glenn, local council officials disavow any responsibility for the "Learning for Life" program, insisting it is entirely separate from traditional Scouting and does not enforce Scouting's ban on homosexual adult leaders; at the same time, officials admit the program is a subsidiary of Scouting, is sponsored and funded by the area Scout council, and is operated out of the council's Auburn offices.
* In a single voicemail message received on AFA-Michigan's office phone, a local Scout council staffer first said the program "is not a part of the BSA," then later said it "is a subsidiary corporation of the BSA."
* The local "Learning for Life" program's address and phone number are identical to that of the local Lake Huron Area Council (BSA). (Search zip code 48640 at http://www.learning-for-life.org and at http://www.scouting.org/councils/index.html)
* The Scout council's monthly newsletter clearly identifies "Learning for Life" as part of the BSA's Exploring-Venturing program. The headline banner on the monthly Exploring-Venturing page of the newsletter lists the Learning for Life website address directly under the words "Boy Scouts of America." (Scouter, March-April 2003 edition, p. 11, available online at http://www.lhacbsa.org/news/Mar2003B/page11.html)
* The January-February issue of the local Boy Scout council newsletter features the front page headline: "Welcome our new Learning for Life staff member." http://www.lhacbsa.org/news/JAN2003A/
* The agenda for the council's Fall 2003 Lake Huron Council Camporee includes the following event listing: "Midway Adventure: Council displays (i.e. register to be a Scout, Trails End popcorn, Learning for Life, Venturing, Camp Rotary, Paul Bunyon Scout Reservation...Scouting for Food, Philmont, 2005 Jamboree...etc.)" http://www.lhacbsa.org/forms/CouncilCamporee.PDF
"Local Scout officials admit that they fund the program, sponsor it, promote it, portray it as a Scout program in their newsletter, and run it out of the Scout office," Glenn said, "all while insisting the program has nothing to do with Scouting, they have no influence over its adult leaders, and bear no responsibility for having allowed a prominent homosexual activist to serve as a role model for young people in clear violation of the BSA leadership standards that parents assume apply to all programs affiliated with, sponsored and funded by Scouting. To claim they have no influence over a program they sponsor and fund is simply not believable."
Glenn also said the local council's comments appear to be contradicted by official policy statements issued by the national BSA office:
* In February 2002, the national office of the Boy Scouts of America issued a news release announcing: "The BSA reaffirmed its view that an avowed homosexual cannot serve as a role model for the traditional moral values espoused in the Scout Oath and Law and that these values cannot be subject to local option choices."
* That news release reported that the BSA's national council had adopted a formal resolution restating the official policy as follows, that "homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the traditional values espoused in the Scout Oath and Law and that an avowed homosexual cannot serve as a role model for the values of the Oath and Law; ...as a national organization whose very reason for existence is to instill and reinforce values in youth, the BSA's values cannot be subject to local option choices, but must be the same in every unit." http://www.scouting.org/media/press/020206/resolution.html
* In 1991, during a controversy involving United Way funding of Scouting programs in San Francisco, the BSA issued the following official position statement specifically stating that the BSA's adult leadership standards do apply to the "Learning for Life" program: "The one major aspect of Learning for Life that remains the same as traditional BSA programs is that adult leadership in Learning for Life must meet the standards of traditional BSA programs, standards which have not changed." http://www.bsa-discrimination.org/BSA_Funding/UnitedWay-Top/UW-SF-Top/UW-SF-Media/UW-SF-Media.html
That BSA statement regarding "Learning for Life" continued: "The program is designed as a community outreach effort, to be implemented at the discretion of local councils. It is not a mandatory program for local councils. It is the prerogative of the local council executive board to determine the scope of involvement. Each local council determines its own amount of community outreach, educational support, and budgetary involvement."
Glenn said in a statement sent to Lake Huron Area Council President Arnold Alleming that given the council's apparent autonomy regarding the "Learning for Life" program, local Scout officials should immediately require the local program to honor the adult leadership standards parents expect of all BSA-affiliated programs -- meaning Wright would no longer serve as a counselor for the program -- or else the council should discontinue its funding of the program.
"It's a matter of honoring the trust of Scout parents whose children are involved in Scouting, and who financially support the local Scout council, precisely because of the traditional values they expect Scouting to uphold as a matter of principle across the board," he said. "Hopefully, local Scout officials will act to regain the trust and confidence many parents feel they've violated."
Glenn and AFA-Michigan have long actively supported and defended Scouting programs in the state which have come under fire from homosexual activists precisely because of the BSA policy protecting youngsters from exposure to adults involved in homosexual behavior.
AFA-Michigan in 2000 donated $4,000 to the Gerald R. Ford Scout Council in Grand Rapids to replace funding lost from the Allegan County United Way because of the BSA policy. http://www.heraldpalladium.com/archives/index.inn?loc=detail&doc=/2000/October/21-149-news1.txt
Two years ago, the Scouting Legal Defense Fund -- chaired by former Reagan Administration Attorney General Ed Meese and based in San Diego -- praised AFA-Michigan for "doing an outstanding job helping the Scouts in their state. Because we monitor a large volume of news reports and e-mails about what is happening to Scouting around the country, it is clear to us that the Michigan state affiliate of the American Family Association is by far the most active independent group defending Scouting at the state level." (Defend Scouting newsletter, Feb. 21, 2001)
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* A website cosponsored by the Midland Chamber of Commerce clearly describes Learning for Life as a BSA program:
"EXPLORING: Exploring is the career exploration program of the Boy Scouts of America available for young men and women age 14 (or who have completed the eighth grade) through age 20...The result is a program of activities that help young adults pursue their special interests and develop career goals. The young adults involved in Exploring will gain practical experience in a career, special interest or skill and engage in a program of activities centered on the six experience areas: leadership, service, social interaction, fitness, the outdoors, and career...For more information, call Lake Huron Area Council Boy Scouts of America at (989) 662-4464 or Fax (989) 695-5593 or check out the "Learning for Life" website at www.learning-for-life.org/exploring/index.html." (http://www.studentconnection.org/Edu/defn.html)
The express portrayal of Learning for Life as a Boy Scout program is not unique to the Lake Huron Area Council:
* The Southwest Michigan Council (BSA) lists Learning for Life, along with Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, as elements of the local council's Scouting program. (http://www.inrnetwork.org/j30o5i7s.htm and http://www.inrnetwork.org/j30o5igj.htm)
* The website of the Tall Pine Council (BSA) based in Flint lists Learning for Life as one of several programs of the council (http://www.tpcbsa.org), instructing parents: "For information about the Learning for Life programs in your area schools, call Tall Pine Council at 810-235-2531." (http://www.gfn.org/tpc/EXP-LFL/LearningForLife/index.html)
* The Detroit Area Council (BSA) website's "Learning for Life" calendar refers to the program as follows: "The Spring Camporee is one of the biggest events of the year for the Learning for Life scouts...The Annual Fishing Derby is an event that the Learning for Life scouts look forward to each summer...Scouts from Macomb, Wayne and Oakland County join in on this wonderful event...All Learning for Life scouts are welcome to take part in this event...The Learning for Life Holiday Festival returns to Cobo Hall in downtown Detroit. There have been over 1,000 scouts and volunteers in attendance...The educational aspect of scouting for children with special needs is embedded within the Learning for Life program..." http://www.dacbsa.org/trl-available-events.htm