Carly Rae Jepsen drops out of Boy Scouts of America’s national Jamboree to protest ban on gays

Don’t call her... and she doesn’t mean maybe. Pop star Carly Rae Jepsen has dropped out of a planned performance at the Boy Scouts of America’s National Jamboree to protest the group’s ban on gays. “As an artist who believes in equality for all people, I will not be participating in the Boy Scouts of America Jamboree this summer," Jepsen tweeted Tuesday morning. The 27-year-old singer, whose song “Call Me Maybe” dominated radio last summer, joins the rock group Train in dropping out of the jamboree, which is set for July 15 to 24 at Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia. Train announced its decision Friday. The Boy Scouts have an official national ban on admitting openly gay scouts or leaders, but the issue is coming up for a national vote this May. Train said in a statement it would play the show if the ban is struck down during that vote. "We appreciate everyone's right to express an opinion and remain focused on delivering a great jamboree program for our scouts," Boy Scouts spokesman Derron Smith said in a statement to the Daily News. An online petition launched by an openly gay former Eagle Scout Derek Nance had called on Jepsen to ditch the jamboree, which is held only once every four years. Nance’s petition drew more than 62,000 signatures. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation said in a statement, “Carly Rae Jepsen and Train's decisions not only send the right message to the BSA, but remind LGBT young people that they are supported and accepted.” Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Chipotle Mexican Grill pulls out of ‘Scout-O-Rama’ over Boy Scouts of America’s gay policy

No gays? No burritos. Chipotle Mexican Grill withdrew its sponsorship of the Boy Scouts of America's "Scout-O-Rama" in Utah because of the organization's gay ban. The fast-food chain aroused criticism for betraying its own anti-discrimination stance after signing up to provide $4,200 worth of coupons for the May 4 event outside Salt Lake City. "It was never our intention for this to be… some kind of an endorsement of broader Boy Scout policies," company spokesman Chris Arnold told The Associated Press. Advocates cited Chipotle's policy of not supporting groups that discriminate based on sexual orientation, such as the Boy Scouts of America. Arnold admitted to Think — who first reported the sponsorship's termination — that the "decision is not consistent with our own values, and we have used this opportunity to reinforce those values with the team that makes those decisions for us." Once the partnership reached Chipotle's leadership, Arnold said, they decided to back out. "Ultimately, we decided that the right thing to do was to remain consistent with our policy and terminate the sponsorship," he said. Chipotle is not alone in withdrawing support from the Boy Scouts and "Scout-O-Rama." The Scouts' Great Salt Lake Council, one of the largest in the country, makes money through sponsorships but did not come close to its projected fundraising goal this year, reported The Salt Lake Tribune. "In the past we have received as much as $70,000 from these sponsorships, with a small portion of that going to subsidize the show costs," an email to hundreds of Scout leaders reads. "This year, because of the economy and some controversy surrounding the national organization, our sponsorships are down to just $8,000." Rick Barnes, executive of the Great Salt Lake Council, said that he understands Chipotle's decision to back out of their partnership. "If that's what they need to, we respect that," he said. "The show Continue Reading

Boy Scouts of America to review ban on gays

NEW YORK — The Boy Scouts of America will review a resolution that would allow individual units to accept gays as adult leaders, but a spokesman says there's no expectation that the ban on gay leaders will in fact be lifted any time soon. The resolution was submitted by a Scout leader from the Northeast in April and presented last week at the Scouts' national meeting in Orlando, Fla., according to BSA spokesman Deron Smith. Smith said Wednesday it would be referred to a subcommittee, which will then make a recommendation to the national executive board. The process would likely be completed by May 2013, according to Smith, who said there were no plans at this time to change the policy. During last week's meeting, the Scouts were presented with a petition, bearing more than 275,000 names, protesting the ouster of a lesbian mother, Jennifer Tyrrell, who'd been serving as a Scout den mother near Bridgeport, Ohio. Among those who presented the petition, and met with Scout officials, was Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, an Iowa college student who was raised by lesbian mothers. Wahls, in a telephone interview, said he and his allies planned a campaign to mobilize opposition to the gay-exclusion policy from within Scout ranks, with the goal of building pressure for the resolution to be approved. "Up to the day they end this policy, they'll be saying they have no plans to do so," Wahls said. "But there's no question it's costing the Boy Scouts in terms of membership and public support." The Scouts, who celebrated their 100th anniversary in 2010, have had a long-standing policy of excluding gays and atheists. Controversy over the policy intensified in 2000 when the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the Scouts to maintain the policy in the face of a legal challenge. Leaders of several regional scouting councils have asked for the policy to be scrapped or modified, to no avail. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Boy Scouts of America ordered to pay $18.5M to man sexually abused by ex-assistant Scoutmaster

PORTLAND, Ore. - A jury on Friday ordered the Boy Scouts of America to pay $18.5 million to a man sexually abused by a former assistant Scoutmaster.The award is believed to be the largest of its kind against the national organization.Lawyers for Kerry Lewis had asked the jury to award at least $25million to punish the Boy Scouts for reckless conduct.The jury decided on April 13 that the Boy Scouts were negligent for allowing former Assistant Scoutmaster Timur Dykes to associate with Scouts, including Lewis, after Dykes admitted to a Scouts official in 1983 that he had molested 17 boys. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Victim awarded $1.4M after Boy Scouts of America found negligent in molestation case

PORTLAND, Ore. - Jurors on Tuesday found the Boy Scouts of America negligent and awarded $1.4 million to a former Portland man who was abused by an assistant Scoutmaster in the early 1980s, following a three-week trial in which secret Scout "perversion files" were used as evidence. The jury also decided the Irving, Texas-based Scouts organization was liable for punitive damages that will be decided in a separate phase of the trial. That would be in addition to the $1.4 million. The Scouts denied the allegations of negligence and said the files actually helped them keep child molesters out of their ranks. Lawyers for Kerry Lewis, the victim who filed the lawsuit, argued the Boy Scouts organization was reckless for allowing former assistant Scoutmaster Timur Dykes to continue to associate with the victim's Scout troop after Dykes admitted to a bishop for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints early in 1983 that he had molested 17 Boy Scouts. The church was the charter organization for an estimated third to one half of the Boy Scout troops in the nation in the 1980s. Dykes was later convicted three times of various abuse charges involving boys and served time in prison. Shortly before trial, he admitted in a deposition to abusing Lewis. The Associated Press had not previously named Lewis. But he said Friday he did not object to being publicly identified. Kelly Clark, an attorney for Lewis, introduced the confidential files to argue that the Boy Scouts was negligent because the files were not used to protect boys from alleged sex abusers but instead were kept secret. Although the existence of "perversion files" kept by the Boy Scouts at its national headquarters has been known for awhile, the Portland case is believed to be only the second time any of the documents have been seen by a jury. The Boy Scouts has fought to keep those files confidential. But the Oregon Supreme Court in February approved the release of more than 1,000 files the Continue Reading

Boy Scouts of America president ponders lifting hiring ban for gay adults

The president of the Boy Scouts of America said Thursday the organization should consider lifting its ban on openly gay adult leaders — before the courts make them do it. “We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be,” Robert Gates said at the Scouts’ National Annual Meeting. “The status quo in our movement’s membership standards cannot be sustained.” RELATED: LEADERS ASK BOY SCOUTS TO END BAN ON GAY ADULTS Noting that the New York and Denver chapters have already defied the BSA’s ban, Gates warned “we can expect more councils to openly challenge the current policy.” “Moreover dozens of states — from New York to Utah — are passing laws that protect employment rights on the basis of sexual orientation,” he said. This, said Gates, “makes us vulnerable to the possibility the courts simply will order us at some point to change our membership policy.” “The one thing we cannot do is put our heads in the sand and pretend this challenge will go away,” he said. Gates, the former Secretary of Defense under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, stopped short of asking the BSA’s board to lift the ban. Gates’ words were received with stony silence in the main room where most of the BSA big shots were sitting, but there was cheering in the overflow room where the other participants watched the speech on video feed. “It was one of the few things that the room actually applauded,” Michael Schuenemeyer, a United Church of Christ liaison to BSA, said of Gates’ remarks about the gay leaders. “They were sitting on their hands until that moment.” Any move by the BSA to lift the ban is likely to face stiff opposition from the conservative religious groups that sponsor many Scout troops. Continue Reading

New York branch of Boy Scouts of America hires gay adult employee — defying national leadership

The New York chapter of the Boy Scouts of America has made history by hiring an openly gay adult — and telling bigotry to take a hike. They have hired a gutsy 18-year-old Eagle Scout named Pascal Tessier to work as a camp counselor this summer at the Ten Mile River Scout Camp in upstate New York. And nobody is prouder than his mom. “I am,” said Tracie Felker, who lives in Hagerstown, Md., when asked about her boundary-breaking boy. “It’s not a brave thing he is doing,” she added. “It’s something necessary, something that needs to be done.” Legal eagle David Boies, best known for leading the fight against California’s anti-gay marriage law, said Tessier “embodies the best qualities of an Eagle Scout, and of America.” “Permitting him to continue his service to scouts and to scouting is the right decision for the Boy Scouts, and for our community,” said Boies, who is also a former scout. “In the past, barring boys and adults from being scouts and scout leaders solely based on their sexual orientation hurt them, hurt scouting, and hurt our communities. Ending that discrimination is an important step in putting an ugly chapter of American history behind us.” Zach Wahls of Scouts for Equality called the hiring of Tessier a "watershed moment." "For the first time in the history of the Boy Scouts, an openly gay adult will join their ranks as a camp counselor," he said. “Pascal Tessier was the first out gay scout, and now it appears that he will also be the first out gay leader.” New Yorkers interviewed said Tessier deserves a special merit badge. “It’s like the civil rights movement all over again,” said Kimathi McKay, a 20-year-old St. John’s University student and a former scout from Framingham, Mass. “I’m really happy the New York chapter is standing up against the national Continue Reading

Scouting values: Leaders call on Boy Scouts of America to end ban on openly gay adults

Were all the merit badges for naught? For Brian Peffly, a life teaching eager Boy Scouts to tie knots, start fires and build their character ended with a phone call. The vague communique told him that the Boy Scouts of America didn’t want a gay man in their midst. “I didn’t learn that discrimination was a scouting value when I was growing up,” said Peffly, 35, who has been both scout and scout leader for the better part of 20 years. “Being told I can’t be a part of my family is very devastating,” Peffly said of Troop 192, the Westerville, Ohio, group with which he has been active for much of his life. Two years after the storied organization amended its standards to prevent the expulsion of any youth member on the basis of his sexual orientation, openly gay adult members and volunteers are still in a bind. The organization made an explicit distinction between youth and adults, and leaders from the Boy Scouts of America have said there were no plans to subject the membership standards to further review. That doesn’t stop Peffly and others from praying that the topic comes up for discussion this week when more than 1,000 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America National Council converge on Atlanta for their annual meeting. “We’re really hoping that’s the case — we’re thinking and hoping and crossing our fingers that’s what they’re doing with their silence,” said attorney Josh Schiller, whose openly gay client Pascal Tessier, 18, has been hired by the Boy Scouts’ Greater New York Councils to be a camp counselor this summer. The Boy Scouts provide only a broad outline of their agenda for the private council meeting, which begins on Wednesday, and none of the proceedings will be public, but recent scrutiny of the organization’s practices has renewed activists’ expectations that the topic will be broached. I didn't Continue Reading

Boy Scouts of America to meet in Times Square for the Pinewood Derby World Championship

This time, it’s personal. Two of the biggest names in small car racing are poised to face off once again at the Pinewood Derby World Championship on June 27 in Times Square. Brooklyn Cub Scout Lerrod (Roddy) Smalls II has lost two consecutive races to bitter rival Giancarlo Costa — but promises a different outcome this time. "I want to beat him!" says Roddy, 7. “I’ve gotten this far and I really don’t want to lose. I worked really hard.” In this model car version of the Thrilla in Manilla, 8-year-old Giancarlo is playing the Joe Frazier role, declining all interview requests as he, presumably, focuses on tweaking his design for the upcoming faceoff. His victories speak for themselves — but Roddy said he’ll avenge his losses at the “Showdown in Midtown” thanks to new aerodynamic features that will make his car fly. "We make the top straight so the wind can go over it," explains the member of Cub Scout Pack 1400 in Brownsville. And that’s the goal of Pinewood Derby, a time-honored American and Boy Scout tradition dating back to 1953. Each year, participating scouts receive kits containing four plastic wheels, four nails for axles, and a block of pinewood. With these materials, and not much else, they create model cars weighing five ounces or less that roll down an inclined track. "The event celebrates the process of working with your hands and seeing a project from start to finish," says Ethan Draddy, Scout Executive for the Boy Scouts of America's Greater New York Councils. "This is a project often done with son and father, giving kids hands-on experience working on a complex project. In 2015, that's more important than ever." The New York Councils of the Scouts has before hosted regional races, but the June 27 event is the first world championship in the Crossroads of the World. About 200 scouts from Continue Reading

Boy Scout swept away by flash flood and killed at Boy Scouts of America’s New Mexico ranch

A flash flood whipped up by a nightime storm early Saturday swept a Boy Scout to his death during a 12-day camping trip at a remote northeast New Mexico ranch. The surging waters rushed through one of the scout campsites around 4:30 a.m. Saturday as the storm struck, whisking away four young scouts through the North Ponil Canyon. Three of the boys, whose ages range from 14 to 17, survived when rescuers pulled them from the raging waters, but one teen never resurfaced during the initial search. The boy's body was eventually found a mile from the campsite, New Mexico State Police said.  He has not been identified by pending the family’s notification. “This is a very difficult time for our entire Scouting family,” a Philmont Scout Ranch spokesman said in a statement to its website. “Our staff was unable to account for one youth participant, who we have since confirmed passed away. The scouts were in the first 15 miles of their trek through the ranch that covers about 214-square miles of rugged terrain owned by the Boy Scouts of America.  It’s unknown which path the scouts had taken, but multiple trails do pass through the canyon, ranch controller Steve Nelson said. Nelson does not recall any flash floods in that area of the canyon during his eight-year tenure at the ranch. The ranch has had at least one fatality in recent history when an adult died of a medical condition while on the trail. With News Wire Services Join the Conversation: Continue Reading