Boy Scouts reverse transgender ban, ask Secaucus boy to return

An 8-year-old North Jersey transgender boy who was forced out of the Cub Scouts because he was born a girl was asked to rejoin in what amounts to a major shift in policy for the Boy Scouts of America, which issued a statement Monday night indicating that it’s opening its membership to transgender children.“Starting today, we will accept and register youth in the Cub and Boy Scout programs based on the gender identity indicated on the application,” the Boy Scouts said in the statement. “Our organization’s local councils will help find units that can provide for the best interest of the child."Kristie Maldonado of Secaucus said she received a call on Monday night from the Northern New Jersey Council of the Boy Scouts telling her that her son, Joe, would be welcome back as a Cub Scout.Joe’s story, first reported in The Record in December, led to a national debate over the Boy Scouts' policy at a time when the organization appeared to be emerging from a period of turmoil after its decisions, amid heated internal discussions, to overturn bans against gay Scouts and gay Scouting leaders in recent years.His mother said she was surprised by Monday’s call, when she was told that the Scouts would change their policy and no longer go by the gender on a birth certificate. Last year, in response to questions by The Record, the Boy Scouts said they check birth certificates to determine eligibility for programs that are restricted to boys, but on Monday night they said in a statement that “that approach is no longer sufficient as communities and state laws are interpreting gender identity differently, and these laws vary widely from state to state.” BANNED: Cub Scouts bar 8-year-old transgender boy THANKS: Amid the maelstrom, transgender boy's parents grateful for support EDITORIAL: Cub Scouts should not exclude kids SERIES: Growing up transgender LGBT advocates had said they were Continue Reading

Madonna is GLAAD to honor Anderson Cooper and calls out the Boy Scouts to end gay ban

It was a gay (and lesbian) old time at the 24th annual Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Awards, where Madonna called for revolution, and NFL players, newscasters, “Jersey Shore” stars and Honey Boo Boo joined in the chant for civil rights. Dressed in a faux Cub Scouts uniform bearing the number 13, Madonna stole the show in an 11-minute speech before urging the Boy Scouts of America “to change their stupid rules” of banning gay members. She compared discrimination against homosexuals to white supremacists lynching black people in the Deep South and said, “I don’t know about you, but I can’t take this s— anymore. That’s why I want to start a revolution. Are you with me? It’s 2013. We live in America — the land of the free and home of the brave? That’s a question, not a statement.” After being introduced by Madonna, Anderson Cooper took the stage to receive the Vito Russo Award for promoting equality. There, the Material Girl gave him a big hug, grabbed his butt, then tattooed him with big messy kisses that left the CNN anchorman wiping red lipstick from his mouth. “I’ve had so many blessings in my life and being gay is certainly one of the greatest blessings,” said Cooper, thanking his boyfriend, Benjamin Maisani. “It has allowed me to love and to be loved.” Up to that point, the best-received comment of the night came when Honey Boo Boo, who was featured in a video montage, said, “Ain’t nothing wrong with being gay. Everybody’s a little gay.” Though Honey Boo Boo wasn’t there, her mother, Mama June Shannon tells [email protected] that staying active on the set of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” helped her shed 100 pounds. “If I lose more weight, I lose more weight,” she said nonchalantly. “I’m happy with who I am and I’ve always taught my kids Continue Reading

Siblings discover document detailing their father’s molestation of Boy Scouts, sparking them to recall their own abuse

On opposite sides of the world, the brother and sister sat transfixed before their computers, reading a stranger's account of long-ago secrets and deeply buried sins. The memo was just four pages long, about an incident in 1963 at a Boy Scout camp in New Jersey. A Scout executive had gotten drunk during an overnight outing, then was discovered gambling with a group of boys. But there was more. The brother and sister read on - about how this man "was observed molesting an Explorer Scout sitting at his side." About how he was admitted, voluntarily, to a mental hospital. They read about an investigation that determined he had tried to molest another Scout. It found that this man's "problem," as the document called it, had apparently existed for decades. They read, too, about a call from this local Boy Scouts council for "suppression of spread of incident beyond group with knowledge of it." ''We know enough to advise that Brandon P. Gray should never again be registered in any capacity with the Boy Scouts of America," the memo stated. In Alabama, her face lit by the glow of her computer monitor, Carol Gray sat back. While shocking in its way, none of what she read had really surprised her. The drinking, the abuse. They were sins she knew well, for they were the sins of her father. And she had been a victim. Eight thousand miles away, in a village in Africa, Jim Gray shared his sister's sense of numbness. The memo reaffirmed, in stark black and white, what he had also experienced firsthand. "I'm not crazy," he thought, feeling some semblance of vindication. Adults now, these siblings say they suffered years of abuse at the hands of their father. For Carol, the nightmare began long before the Boy Scouts learned of Gray's proclivities and fired him. But for Jim, the end of his father's scouting career was the beginning of his own torment. The story of Brandon Gray is the story of the inaction of the Boy Scouts of America. For his children, it is Continue Reading

After controversial Boy Scouts speech, Trump takes more traditional tone in remarks to young people

WASHINGTON – Two days after a controversial speech to a group of Boy Scouts, President Trump took a more traditional, inspirational tone Wednesday to another group of young people."I see the next generation of American leaders," Trump said in Rose Garden remarks to the American Legion Boys Nation and the American Legion Auxiliary Girls Nation.Still, Trump being Trump, he did inject a little bit of politics – namely, about his election win last year.“Just think of the amazing moments in history you will witness in your lifetime," he told the youngsters. "You saw one on November 8, right?”Trump drew criticism from many parents, and current and former scouts, for a Monday speech to Boy Scouts that at times sounded more like a political pep rally. Trump mixed life lessons, demanded a repeal of Obamacare, and attacked predecessor Barack Obama for never having attended the jamboree.  Related: After the speech, the Boy Scouts of America issued a statement clarifying, "the group "is wholly non-partisan and does not promote anyone position, product, service, political candidate or philosophy."Yet in the Rose Garden, Trump pretty much stuck to the script for presidents addressing young people, telling the Boys and Girls Nation delegates: “Never quit. Never give up. Take care of your family and your parents."The programs "play a critical role in educating the next generation of leaders on the importance of being engaged citizens and carrying on our Nation’s traditions," the White House said in a statement."As part of 'American Heroes Week,' this event focuses on fostering the heroes of the future, and the commitment the Trump Administration has toward providing a better future for all Americans." Continue Reading

George Takei outraged at Boy Scouts for dropping gay mom as a leader

George Takei will be in uniform on Sunday, but it won’t be to board the USS Enterprise. The iconic actor, best known as Lt. Hikaru Sulu on “Star Trek,” will be joined in the official Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation car by Ohio mom and former Boy Scout leader Jennifer Tyrrell at the 43rd Annual LGBT Pride March in New York City. The pair, who will each be accompanied by their respective spouses, will sport matching Boy Scout uniforms to protest Tyrrell’s ouster as a Scout leader for being gay. “I was a Boy Scout, and I have wonderful memories of my Boy Scout days and we had no issues like what has come up in recent times,” says the openly gay Takei. “I’m saddened and shocked by the policy the Boy Scouts have.” Tyrrell was a leader for her 7-year-old son’s Boy Scout troop in Bridgeport, Ohio, until April when the organization asked her to step down, noting that her sexual orientation “did not meet the high standards” of conduct set by the Boy Scouts of America. After she was forced to give up her post, her son, Cruz , was deactivated from his troop. Since then, the mother of four has started a petition that has got the attention — and signatures — of more than 300,000 Americans, including Julianne Moore , Ricky Martin , Benecio Del Toro . “The Hunger Games’” Josh Hutcherson and “Glee’s” Dianna Agron . On Sunday, Tyrrell, Takei and GLAAD will be joined by a number of current and former Scouts, both gay and straight, and their families, who will be sporting American Apparel shirts that read “GAY O.K.” “The Girl Scouts [of America] have no problem with it,” Takei, formerly a member of Troop 379, explains about the organization’s discrimination against gay scouts and LGBT leaders. After his time as a scout, the 75-year-old actor later served as a spokesperson for the group in a Continue Reading

Boy Scouts: Our ‘anti-gay’ policy stands

The Boy Scouts of America announced Tuesday that it will continue to enforce its policy of barring gay scouts and leaders after a confidential two-year review. The organization came to the conclusion after it quietly formed an 11-person committee, comprised of scout executives and adult volunteers, in 2010 to evaluate the 102-year-old policy, Boy Scouts' national spokesman, Deron Smith, told the AP. Smith said that the group unanimously agreed "that this policy is absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts." The members of the committee were not named, however a statement released by the organization said that the group "included a diversity of perspectives and opinions." "The review included forthright and candid conversation and extensive research and evaluations - both from within Scouting and from outside of the organization," the statement said. The Boy Scouts announced in June that it was considering a resolution proposed at the organization's annual meeting that demanded an end to the long-standing policy. The organization will no longer continue to review that resolution in light of the committee's decision, according to the AP. Bob Mazzuca, chief scout executive of Boy Scouts of America, said in a statement that he understands "no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society." "The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers, and at the appropriate time and in the right setting," Mazzuca added. MISSOURI EAGLE SCOUT ERIC JONES COMES OUT, LOSES BOY SCOUTS JOB The Scouts boasts nearly 2.7 million members and over 1 million adult volunteers - making it one of the country's largest youth organizations, according to ABC News. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the controversial policy in 2000, ruling 5-4 that the Boy Scouts was exempt from state laws that prohibit anti-gay discrimination. Continue Reading

Boy Scouts deny allegations in LMPD sex abuse suit

The Boy Scouts of America deny concealing the alleged sexual abuse of an Explorer Scout by Louisville Metro Police Officers Kenneth Betts and Brandon Wood, or that the organization failed to properly screen them as advisers in the program.Responding to a lawsuit by a former Scout identified only as N.C., the Boy Scouts and the organization's regional chapter, the Lincoln Heritage Council, said in court papers filed Tuesday that his injuries may have been caused by other individuals or entities over which the organization has no control. The pleading doesn’t say if those parties were Betts, Wood or the police department, or all three.The Boy Scouts' answer also argues the suit is barred by the statute of limitations. And it says that N.C. had a duty to “mitigate his damages and to the extent that he has failed to do so, he may not recover such damages which may have been avoided or otherwise lessened.” Related Betts asks for dismissal of LMPD sex-abuse suit Councilwoman calls for police chief's resignation Leader of police's Explorer program asks out of sex-abuse suit Betts fired from suburban city patrol job in Rolling Hills The attorneys for the Boy Scouts and Lincoln Heritage Council — Robert Connolly, Marc Murphy and J. Brittany Cross Carlson — did not immediately respond to questions about how N.C. could have mitigated his damages.In his suit filed March 8 in Jefferson Circuit Court, N.C. alleges he was sexually abused by Betts and Wood in police cruisers and at their residences and that the police and Boy Scouts concealed the allegations.The suit also alleges the Boy Scouts knew or should have known of the officers’ “sexual predator propensities.”The Lincoln Heritage Council has said Betts and Wood were both suspended as Explorer advisers as soon as it became aware of the allegations against them.Betts resigned from the police Continue Reading

EDITORIAL: Boy Scouts start membership war by admitting girls

This isn’t your father’s Boy Scouts anymore. That’s not a bad thing.The Boy Scouts of America made a watershed announcement Wednesday that it will accept girls as full-fledged scouts. Initially girls will be able to join Cub Scouts as part of girls-only “dens,” and by next year a program will be established for older girls with a chance to reach the highest rank of Eagle Scout.The official stance of the Boy Scouts of America is that the move reflects a growing demand among families to more meaningfully include girls (for many years an Explorer program offered limited participation to girls). BSA officials praised their own organization for unparalleled success in building leaders, success they say should be extended to girls.The Boy Scouts wouldn’t be doing this if there wasn’t interest. Left unsaid, however, is a steadily declining membership that was a primary driver behind the move. The Boy Scouts, after all, haven’t exactly adjusted to the modern era with arms wide open. The organization was long reluctant to accept gay members before doing so. Early this year it finally admitted transgender children who identify as boys.But regardless of the motivations, the Boy Scouts’ inclusiveness should be applauded. Yet the immediate public reaction has been mixed. The first question on most minds was also asked by Donald Trump Jr., who tweeted, “Strange, I thought that’s what the Girl Scouts was for???” MORE: Cotter: Boy Scouts to let girls in, sort of  MORE: Bovard: Trump may have set Scouts on right path MORE: Trump poor role model for Boy ScoutsThat is what Girl Scouts is for — sort of. But the Girl Scouts aren’t just a female version of the Boy Scouts. The Girl Scouts of the USA is a separate organization with its own leadership and structure. The Boy Scouts may talk about responding to public input, but this decision is an undeniable threat to the Girl Scouts, who are Continue Reading

Time in the country does a city kid good: ‘Boy Scouts of Harlem’ merits our attention

"Boy Scouts of Harlem," a no-frills documentary, confirms in a subtle and uplifting way that all communities produce a wide range of future citizens and leaders. The specific focus of this film is pretty simple. Filmmaker Justin Szlasa follows scouts from Troop 759 in Harlem as they travel to Camp Keowa, a scout facility 90 miles north of the city. It's a standard scout camp, with a lake for swimming, large tents for sleeping, a dining hall and rough buildings where the campers work on merit badges. To a kid who hasn't spent much time outside the city, says veteran Andy Cabrera, it's another universe: "It blows your mind." The film spends little time on culture shock, though, dwelling instead on the ways in which these scouts react like any kid at summer camp. Keith Dozier, who's 11, feels homesick. C.J., who's 14, discovers a couple of Russian girls who are working in the kitchen for the summer. Every time his table needs food, C.J. bounces right up to go over and get it. Other documentarians have covered at various times the larger sociological issue of "urban" kids in the country. This film gets sharper because its focus is smaller. For instance. Every scout camp has a rating system for swimmers, dictating where they can go into the lake. When you check in, you get a small round tag, maybe an inch and a half in diameter, with your name on it. Everyone's tag is kept on a hook on the master board. That original blank white tag makes you a beginner. When you can swim at the next level, intermediate, the top half of the tag is colored with a red semicircle. If you reach the level of accomplished swimmer, the bottom half of the tag is colored in blue. Keith has never learned to swim. The first time he jumps in the lake, he thrashes to the surface, climbs out and announces this water thing isn't for him. He walks back to the tents, alone. No one makes a big deal about this. But the film quietly returns to this matter as it moves 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