My friend Neil Polzin served on the board of directors for the Secular Student Alliance a couple years ago.
I got this message from him last night and it needs to be passed along.
The short version: He was fired from his job with the Boy Scouts of America… likely because they found out about his non-religious beliefs.
The letter from Neil (emphases mine):
“We have received information that has compelled us to revoke your registration. You must immediately sever any relationship you may have with the Boy Scouts of America.”
Today I received a letter from Marcus Mack at the San Gabriel Valley Council that started this way. What was my offense that makes me so inappropriate to be around children? Before your mind fills with thoughts of violence, violations of youth protection or any other deplorable action, it is simply because I am an atheist.
That’s the only reason for the revoking of my membership. I am being kicked out of the BSA because they feel that I am not a capable role model for children. Regardless of the 15 years I have spent in the scouts, any achievements or recognitions along the way.
It is not only that I can’t ever go to my home troop growing up and visit. Along with making it impossible to volunteer for the scouts in any capacity, It also eliminates me from my current paid position as Aquatics Director at Camp Cherry Valley. I am being kicked out AND fired for being an atheist by my employer.
This has been the policy of the BSA for years, to discriminate against homosexuals and the godless. It is an easy policy to look past, because most do not know anyone it has affected. It keeps people in the closet about their personal beliefs or habits, and gives an example of discrimination being ok to the many children in scouts. It is now directly affecting me, along with the hundreds of cubs I was set to swim, kayak and snorkel with this summer. Just as it has effected so many others in the past.
There is an appeals process in the scouts, one that I plan on following over the upcoming weeks. I know that over the years I have had a great effect on my peers and youth in the scouts and in life, as they have had on me. Any examples of this I would be very grateful for you to write about (scout related or not). I do not know if it will be enough to have any change in outcome, but I want the executives to see how this policy negatively affects scouters and scouting. If you feel this is wrong as I do, send your letters to Marcus Mack (Scout Executive/CEO SGVC 3450 East Sierra Madre Blvd Pasadena, CA 91107), and also make a point to express your viewpoint to him if you are at the council offices. Please also send me a copy (digital or print) so I may include it in my appeal to national.
It is easy to say that without scouts I would not be who I am today. It has given me so much, and so I have tried to give back over the last 7 years as an adult. That looks to be no longer possible due to blatant discrimination on the behalf of the BSA.
The BSA has a habit of kicking out qualified individuals because of their religious beliefs and sexual orientation. All the stories I’ve read about, though, involve people in voluntary positions. I’m not sure what the legal situation is when we’re talking about paid staff.
If you write something, please paste it in the comments.