Spirit Day, The Boy Scouts, And A News Cycle Linkage

It’s probably just a coincidence of what was in the October 20th news cycle, but there was a stark contrast between the story of Spirit Day and a Boy Scouts story. From CNN‘s Boy Scouts tell gay leader to take a hike:

The father of a 9-year-old Cub Scout said Tuesday he has been forced out of a leadership role with the organization and ordered not to wear its uniform because of his sexual orientation.

Jon Langbert of Dallas, Texas, who is openly gay, told HLN’s “Prime News” that he had been wearing the shirt the Scouts gave him last year with pride. The shirt identified him as a member of the leadership team that was selling popcorn for a Scout fundraiser.

But that all changed last week. “Everything was running along smoothly until some of the dads complained,” he said. When the complaints rose to a higher level of the Scout leadership, he was asked to stop wearing the shirt and give up his leadership role, he said.

“It made me feel terrible to think about the devastating effect it would have on my son to see his father stripped of his leadership role,” Langbert said. “It brought tears to my eyes.”

Apparently, Jon Langbert was never officially registered as a Boy Scout leader. From the WFAA-TV piece Scouts to gay dad: ‘Don’t wear that uniform’

Circle Ten council officials said they did not remove Langbert as a leader because he was never registered as a leader in the first place.

All registered Scout leaders must pass criminal background checks. Langbert said he welcomes the process, but the Boy Scouts of America is not welcoming him.

“We do have a policy that avowed gays and atheists are not allowed to be a registered leader or member of Boy Scouts of America,” said Pat Currie, Scout Executive with the Circle Ten Council “It’s a longstanding policy.”

As WFAA-TV reminded us in their piece:

Ten years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Boy Scout guidelines rejecting leaders who are gay or atheist. The court said as a private organization, the Boy Scouts can set their own membership standards.

And they do. The arguments aren’t whether or not the Boy Scouts can discriminate against atheist, non-theist, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender children and adults, it’s whether their discriminatory policies are right.

But that this story broke on CNN on Spirit Day, a day set aside to honor the teenagers who had taken their own lives in recent weeks, and to show the hundreds of thousands of LGBT youth who face the same pressures and bullying, that there is a vast community of people who support them.

One question I’d like to ask the Boy Scouts is did any national or Texas-based Boy Scout leadership wear purple on this past Tuesday for Spirit Day? A second question I’d ask them is similar to one father Jon Langbert’s asked regarding messaging. My question would be “What is the message that the Boy Scouts are sending to bullied lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth, and are the scouts proud or embarrassed about your messaging to LGBTQ youth?”

It’s an odd linkage in the news cycle though — to see Spirit Day and the Boy Scouts non-diversity policy on atheist, non-theist, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender in the same cycle.

I may be wrong, but I don’t believe anyone at CNN made an on-air linkage between these two stories.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Dallas County health chief calls for replicating 1980s model to combat rising HIV infection rate

In the face of Dallas County’s steadily rising HIV infection rate, which is the highest in Texas, health authorities are eyeing new strategies for treatment and prevention of the disease, according to Zachary Thompson, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services.

The county health department, along with Resource Center Dallas and AIDS Arms Inc., have announced a joint press conference Thursday morning to unveil a new HIV/AIDS partnership, which will include two upcoming community forums and two new mobile testing sites.

Thompson said rising HIV infection rates are of particular concern in the 13-24 age group, in the American-American population and among men who have sex with men (MSM).

“I think when we saw what was going on in the Oak Lawn area back in the ’80s, there was a lot of information, there was a lot of education, there was a lot of discussion about testing,” Thompson told Instant Tea on Wednesday morning. “I think that’s the model we need to look at Dallas County-wide. It’s not just in one area. We need to take that same model and look at the fact that we’re seeing new HIV infection rates throughout Dallas County. … You’ve got a young population that may feel they’re invincible, and they may have missed the message altogether.”

A media alert announcing Thursday’s joint press conference between the three agencies states that, “By joining forces, they hope to bring progress in prevention, testing and education, as it pertains to HIV/AIDS.”

Thompson said health authorities believe there are many people in Dallas County who need HIV/AIDS services but don’t know how to access them.

“We need to really dialogue with the community on what are lessons learned, what are things we need to do,” he said. “Is it more testing? Is it more information? Is it more linkage to resources? We think the resources are out there. People just may not be aware of them.”

The two community forums in October will be at Resource Center Dallas, 2701 Reagan St., and at the Urban League on Lancaster Road, Thompson said. Additional community forums will be announced soon.

The new mobile testing sites will be in two areas that are seeing rising HIV infections rates — East Oak Cliff and a section of North Dallas near LBJ Freeway and Coit Road.

“We’re going to have to look at the fact that with the state of all budgets, federal and state, we’re going to have to really focus on what’s going on in our community and how we can utilize existing services right now,” Thompson said.

Thursday’s press conference will be at 10 a.m. in Room 627A on the 6th floor of the health department, 2377 North Stemmons Freeway in Dallas.

For coverage of the press conference, see Friday’s Dallas Voice.

—  John Wright