On December 30, 2005, President George W. Bush signed in to law the “Support Our Scouts Act of 2005” buried in the 153 page Department of Defense Appropriations Act for 2006. (H.R. 2863 pg 49).
“Support Our Scouts” includes a mandate for the federal government to support the BSA:
“No federal law (including any rule, regulation, directive, instruction, or order) shall be construed to limit any Federal agency from providing any form of support for a youth organization (including the Boy Scouts of America or any group officially affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America) that would result in that Federal agency providing less support to that youth organization…than was provided during the preceding fiscal year.”Not only does the Act command government financial support to the BSA, it also dictates material support and non-discrimination.
“Support…shall include holding meetings, camping events, or other activities on Federal property; hosting any official event of such organization; loaning equipment and providing personnel services and logistic support.” “No State or unit of general local government that has a designated open forum, limited public forum, or nonpublic forum and that is a recipient of assistance under this chapter shall deny equal access or a fair opportunity to meet to, or discriminate against, any youth organization, including the Boy Scouts of America, that wishes to conduct a meeting or otherwise in the designated open forum, limited public forum, or nonpublic forum.”Recent reporting about long-term and widespread sexual abuse within the Boy Scouts of America organization notwithstanding, the “Support Our Scouts Act” is in direct conflict with federal policies that clearly do not tolerate discrimination based sexual orientation.
In 1998, President Clinton signed Executive Order 13081 prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation within the Executive Branch which sparked the U.S. Office of Personal Management’s document, “Addressing Sexual Orientation Discrimination in Federal Civilian Employment.”
“This is the policy of the Federal Government to provide an equal opportunity for all of its employees. Federal employees should be able to perform their jobs in workplaces free from discrimination-whether that discrimination is based on color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap, age or sexual orientation. The President’s Executive Order states, as a matter of Federal policy, that a person’s sexual orientation should not be the basis for the denial of a job or a promotion.”Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar reaffirmed the policy in a July 2011 in an department-wide memorandum promoting “equal opportunity and a discrimination-free workplace [and] zero tolerance for discrimination and harassment on the bases of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, (including pregnancy and gender identity), age, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, or protected activity.”
Salazar added that employees “have a public trust to carry out the department’s policy… and create a work environment that a reasonable person would not consider intimidating, hostile, or offensive.”
The question is, has this created a hostile or offensive environment for federal employees who may be required or assigned to work directly with BSA in the capacity of their job?
“There is an undercurrent of concern and frustration among LGBT DOI employees,” said Michael Kelly, President of the U. S. Department of the Interior Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Employee Organization (GLOBE).
The BSA may be the single largest external organization that Interior supports or collaborates with due to its oversight and management of national parks and other recreation sites managed by individual bureaus within its jurisdiction.
Quick searches of DOI and agency websites reveal long-standing, perhaps even symbiotic relationship between BSA and the majority of DOI agencies.
Bureau of Reclamation Website: “Reclamation has participated in seven consecutive Jamborees at Fort A.P. Hill, Va. Reclamation supports each Jamboree with an exhibit on the Conservation Trail.”The “Support Our Scouts Act” hamstrings Interior and forces federal agencies to support the Boy Scouts of America. Federal leaders such as Ken Salazar say they are inclusive and support LGBT employees while at the same time they are bound by law to actively support and openly anti-gay organization.
Fish & Wildlife Service Website: “The Department of the Interior, especially the Fish and Wildlife Service, have closely aligned interests with the Boy Scouts of America.” (podcast transcript)
National Park Service Website: “There were 25 Federal and state government agencies on site with interactive exhibits that promoted natural and cultural resource conservation [educating] visitors about the various agency missions. The Department of the Interior was represented by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service, “Take Pride in America” and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. …The NPS had a strong relationship with BSA since the Service was founded in 1916. … The NPS Jamboree team was composed of employees and volunteers from across the country.”
Where does this leave LGBT employees in Interior and their allies?
This is especially troubling to LGBT federal employees because of the Boys Scouts open discrimination against gay scouts and gay/lesbian leaders. This policy was re-affirmed by BSA as recently as last July.
GLOBE hears from these employees and has raised their concerns to Interior’s leadership. “We have raised the concern to the department and alerted them that this is creating a conflict in certain individuals minds in terms of how does an individual reconcile the requirement to exhibit non-discrimination within their daily activities and their responsibilities,” said Kelly.
“Yet at the same time there is an expectation that the federal government works with an organization that has a discrimination policy for its membership.” Kelly said DOI is taking GLOBE’s concerns under advisement and they will have to reconcile the conflict between their non-discrimination policy and the “Support Our Scouts” law.
“I will say there is sympathy for the fact that this does create a problem for employees, but the question is, is there anything in-fact that can be done. They are caught between a rock and a hard place,” Kelly said.
As I See It left a message late yesterday for Pam Malam, Interior Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Capital and Diversity. An update will be posted when we hear back.
With the Oregon State Supreme Court’s order for BSA to release it’s own “Perversion Files,” the largest known documented child molestation scandal is now front-page news.
The BSA “perversion files” spotlights a systematic attempt to protect sexual offenders over the rights of young victims, while also highlighting a politically biased Congress which forces the federal government to support policies it considers hostile to federal LGBT employees.
The very idea such abuse has occurred at all is disgusting and tragic, but the fact that in some capacity abuse of these children was supported with taxpayer dollars, is horrific to even contemplate.
So which is it?
How do political appointees like Ken Salazar reconcile their rhetoric supporting an inclusive and diverse workforce with laws such as the “Support Our Scouts Act”? Thousands of LGBT federal employees would like to know!
©2012 May-Chang Media