April 9, 2013, the AZ Legislature unanimously adopted House Concurrent Resolution 2036[i] titled “Boy Scouts of America.” Eighty legislators sponsored this bi-partisan bill[ii] whose intent was allegedly to “honor the Boy Scouts of America for its contributions to the lives of our nation’s boys and young men.” I believe there is another intended message.
The resolution states the Boy Scouts “teaches respect for the beliefs of others” and “is a model for inclusiveness.” Excluding gay boys from membership is hardly “a model of inclusiveness” as it: 1) proudly excludes gay boys, thereby teaching boys that gays are lesser, unworthy people; 2) keeps gay boys ensconced in the closet damaging their self-worth; and 3) likely contributed to the methodical cover up of suspected child molesters.[iii]
The Boy Scouts recently reported its unanimous consensus for its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. They are way behind the power curve. The Supreme Court is currently considering the status of the Defense of Marriage Act and the Department of Defense has already ended its discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. As a retired Air Force Colonel who served 22 years and realized late in my career I was a lesbian, I can personally attest to the wasted energy expended by gay and lesbian service members to keep their true selves a secret. I know a retired Naval Captain who was assigned to the Pentagon in 2001. Having left her office for a meeting just seven minutes prior to the airplane impact, it was on this day she decided to retire from her 28-year career. She realized if she’d been killed, her partner of 11 years would have been the last to know about her death, as she had not listed her as “next of kin” for fear of being “outed”.[iv]
As a former Program Director of Wingspan, Southern Arizona’s LGBT Community Center, I learned 20 to 40% of homeless youth on the streets are LGBT[v] and about the pervasive bullying of gay children that still goes on in our schools by children and the adults they are entrusted to. LGBT youth are four times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual counterparts and nearly twice as likely to have been verbally harassed and/or physically assaulted as school while believing they have no adult they can talk to about personal problems. More than 45% of LGBT youth report that their state government is not accepting of LGBT people.[vi]
The Arizona Legislature has once again proven they do not represent all the people of Arizona. This resolution was an unnecessary piece of legislation intended to send a message of support to a discriminatory organization. After all, where is the concurrent resolution in support of the Girl Scouts who by the way don’t feel the need to exclude lesbian girls? I was a Girl Scout and am grateful for the experience it afforded me and wish for every child that same opportunity – to be the very best of who they are.
Diversity has always been one of our nation’s strengths. It is one of the reasons I am proud to be a citizen of these United States. Today however, I am not proud to be an Arizonan.