Friday, April 20, 2012

C is for Character: Unless You're Gay

With Phoenix Pride Weekend beginning this morning, with the parade at 11 AM Arizona time, I have to take a moment to address an issue that had me speechless when I learned of it. One of the writers featured on this blog, Walter Thomas Beck III of Indiana, has been fired from his current job as a summer camp counselor with the Boys Scouts of America for stating the following on Facebook:

“Alright, in the interest of public service, I am about to release the real homosexual agenda. I hope all you out there are taking notes, here it is:

We, the GLBTQ Citizens of the United States of America, want the same rights and promises of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we want to be able to defend our country, have families and provide for them, we want our children to be well-educated and treated with respect, we want our lives to quit being used as political fodder by the Religious Right, we are human beings and we are American Citizens, we are entitled to the same rights, promises and protections as outlined in the United States Constitution.

There you are, the real homosexual agenda. Are there any questions?”
Anyone who can read that and find anything offensive in it needs to examine their values, so here goes. According to the Boy Scouts of America, on their very own website, their 12 Core Values are as follows:

Cub Scouting's 12 Core Values

  1. Citizenship: Contributing service and showing responsibility to local, state, and national communities.
     
  2. Compassion: Being kind and considerate, and showing concern for the well-being of others.
     
  3. Cooperation: Being helpful and working together with others toward a common goal
     
  4. Courage: Being brave and doing what is right regardless of our fears, the difficulties, or the consequences.
     
  5. Faith: Having inner strength and confidence based on our trust in God.
     
  6. Health and Fitness: Being personally committed to keeping our minds and bodies clean and fit.
  1. Honesty: Telling the truth and being worthy of trust.
     
  2. Perseverance: Sticking with something and not giving up, even if it is difficult.
     
  3. Positive Attitude: Being cheerful and setting our minds to look for and find the best in all situations.
     
  4. Resourcefulness: Using human and other resources to their fullest.
     
  5. Respect: Showing regard for the worth of something or someone.
     
  6. Responsibility: Fulfilling our duty to God, country, other people, and ourselves.
In its very first core value, Citizenship, The Boy Scouts of America state that every scout, including Eagle Scout and 9-year camp counselor Walter Thomas Beck III, is supposed to serve the entire local, state and national community.

In its second core value, Compassion, the Boy Scouts of America states that every scout is supposed to care what happens to other people.

Their third core value, Cooperation, means working toward common goals that benefit everyone in the community.

It is Core Value Number Four, however, where Walter Thomas Beck III excels, and where the Boy Scouts of America have chosen to teach him a lesson by rendering him both unemployed and unemployable in the future anywhere else: Courage. It takes courage to choose between a job you love and the community that you know needs your voice. It takes courage to stand up for what is right when it will cost you your future ability to earn a living in your chosen field. Above all, it takes courage to speak out, not just for your own community members and yourself, but for those in even more marginalized groups: gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and non-gender-conforming people.

Beck definitely exercises his Faith, listed as Core Value Number Five by the Boy Scouts of America. He is an ordained minister, spending his time providing spiritual reassurance to those who have been ostracized and fighting against those who spend their time spewing venom at people who are already at the end of their ropes.

His willingness to be Honest in the face of all of the disciplinary power waged against him, standing up for the right of future scouts and their family members to participate in all aspects of Scouting is inspiring. His Perseverance, demonstrated by nine years of service and by his having achieved the status of Eagle Scout are also unquestionable.

Walter Thomas Beck III expresses a Positive Attitude, maintaining the hope that somehow this current struggle will help other gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer scouts and their family members. His Resourcefulness in turning to social media as a platform to advance the rights of all people to serve and participate in Scouting earns him the Rainbow Arrow, an award that was created specifically to honor that struggle and its accompanying sacrifice. The Rainbow Arrow is a Human Being award, and if anyone deserves it, Beck certainly does.

Respect includes self-respect. Self-respect requires an ability to stand in the face of attempts to marginalize and silence you, which Beck certainly has done. Self-respect also includes having the gumption to believe that all of the benefits of society are just as much yours by right of existence as anyone else, and yes, even if you are gay, or lesbian, or bisexual, or transgender or queer. Human rights do not depend on whether or not we conform to the gender binary, who we sleep with or which bathroom we use. Human rights belong to all. Even if you're gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender or queer.

Finally, Beck epitomizes boy Scouts of America's Core Value Number Twelve: Responsibility. He has placed his life, fortune and sacred honor on the line to stand up for the right of everyone, everywhere, to be treated with dignity and respect and to serve in the community in all capacities. Beck dared to publish "The Real Homosexual Agenda" on his Facebook page, and dared to publicly kiss a man during a counter-protest against Westboro Baptist Chuch.

Today, Tempe Tempest of Arizona honors that sacrifice by presenting Walter Thomas Beck III with the very first Rainbow Arrow Award. Designed by Jordan Ethan Michael of Mississippi, the rainbow represents the entire community, while the arrow represents the determination and courage Beck displayed when he sacrificed his employability rather than lie about what he believes is important in life.

Patch design by Jordan Ethan Michael of Mississippi, 2012

 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A is for Action in Aceh: Save the Orangutans

My friend and fellow writer Judith Wilson reminded me that the fight to preserve orangutan habitat in Sumatra's Tripa peat forest is far from over. As of today, 25,668 people have taken a stand and signed the petition at Care2Petitionsite.com in hopes of preserving the habitat that supports these beautiful creatures. The Sumatran orangutan population has dropped to approximately 6000 individuals, of which 3000 were living in Tripa, where PT Kallista Alam has burned over 1500 hectares of habitat, killing nearly 2800 orangutans and leaving the remaining 200 at risk of starvation, according to the Sumatran Orangutan Society. Please sign the petition and educate yourself about the mindless destruction taking place so that PT Kallista Alam can produce palm kernel oil.

Sign this petition at Rainforest Action Network as well.

Call or write to PT Kallista Alam to demand that they cease destroying orangutan habitat.

For more information about the orangutan, and a place to find orangutan wallpaper for your desktop, visit National Geographic.