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.
The 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."
"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!
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?