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OutCasting is now seeking new youth participants. To get information, please visit our Join OutCasting page.
Early in September, OutCasting will release two new linked episodes dealing with asexuality. The first is a first-person account of growing up asexual by OutCasting youth participant Dante; the second is an expert view on asexuality with Professor Anthony Bogaert of Brock University in Saint Catherine's, Ontario.
(July 27, 2015) The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has taken another partial step toward equality. The New York Times reports that BSA has now lifted the ban on gay adults — sort of. Under the new policy, BSA no longer has an outright national ban on gay adult leaders, but it will continue to allow individual troop sponsors to continue the ban, essentially creating a "religious liberty" exemption to a policy that is otherwise generally applicable. This is the same kind of policy that has recently caused so much controversy in the context of marriage equality. BSA was facing an investigation by New York's Attorney General into whether it was violating the state's anti-discrimination laws; with this move, BSA appears to have averted that investigation.
In 2013, as reported by OutCasting, BSA partially lifted the ban on gay people in scouting by ending the ban on openly gay youth under 18. This was due in part to losses in funding BSA faced when corporations and other funding organizations found it increasingly unpalatable to continue to support a discriminatory organization.
Yet this partial move created controversy: if it was okay for BSA to allow openly gay youth under 18, what plausible reason was there for ejecting gay people from scouting on their 18th birthdays? Homosexuality and pedophilia are two entirely separate things, and the BSA didn't claim that the continuing ban on gay adult leaders was based on fear of sexual predation. So what was the reason?
As detailed in OutCasting #17, a structural shift occurred in scouting when the gay ban started to be enforced: many troop sponsors, not wanting to be associated with a discriminatory organization, withdrew. Many anti-gay churches and other religious organizations stepped in. This made scouting more entrenched in its bigotry against gay people.
This latest change is also likely to cause dissension. NPR reports (August 2, 2015) that the Mormon Church, even with the "religious exemption," is considering separating itself from scouting anyway.
While steps toward equality are to be commended, this new policy, like the 2013 change, is a compromise that will continue to cast BSA as an organization that considers anti-gay discrimination to be acceptable.
In an upcoming episode, OutCasting will examine the "religious liberty" bills that seek to allow "religious liberty" to overrule civil law in the context of the Supreme Court's landmark decision in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges (June 2015), which finally made marriage equality the law of the land.
OutCasting interview on Michigan Business Network
(July 3, 2015) OutCasting's founder and executive producer, Marc Sophos, was interviewed on Show Biz Weekly, hosted by Taylor Kelsaw on the Michigan Business Network. Listen »
Episcopalians overwhelmingly vote to allow church weddings for same sex couples
(June 26, 2015) We at OutCasting celebrate the Supreme Court's June 26 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges [pdf] and three related cases legalizing marriage equality nationwide. This is another huge landmark in the march for full equality for LGBTQ people. This would not have been possible without the unrelenting work of those who fought in the courts, those who worked through the political system, and those who worked to educate the American public on these issues through the media and other channels.
But we are also mindful that there is much work still to be done. It is still completely legal to discriminate against LGBTQ people in public accommodations, credit, housing, and employment in much of the United States. The transgender rights movement lags woefully behind the LGB rights movement. LGBTQ kids are continuing to kill themselves and are still subject to terrible bullying just for being who the are. Let's celebrate our victory in marriage equality as we keep fighting for equality in all areas.
In the near future, OutCasting will explore continuing opposition to marriage equality coming from those who believe that religious beliefs should override equality.
In the direct sense, of course, OutCasting is part of the movement advocating for full equality for LGBTQ people. But the bigger picture is that our nation will never live up to its ideals until we are all free and equal, and our celebration is tempered by the recent shootings in Charleston. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those whose lives were lost. And those of the shooting before that, and the one before that, and on, and on. It's nice that in the wake of this most recent act of violence, some southern states have recognized the meaning that the Confederate flag has for so many and are removing it from state grounds. But flags are mere symbols, and removing the flags is a far cry from confronting the guns issue and racism that permeates large paarts of our nation.
So let's celebrate today and wake up tomorrow with renewed energy to continue the fight. Happy Pride!
Boy Scouts of America president favors policy to allow gay adult leaders, but...
The report states that his proposal would allow churches that sponsor troops to set their own standards based on their religious beliefs — in other words, to continue to discriminate against LGBTQ people. He said, “We must, at all costs, preserve the religious freedom of our church partners" to set leadership standards according to their faith.
As the BSA became known as an organization that litigated all the way to the Supreme Court to defend its right to discriminate, many of its existing troop sponsors withdrew, saying that they could no longer be associated with a discriminatory organization. Conservative churches stepped into the void, as described in OutCasting #17, and according to the Times report, now constitute some 70% of troop-sponsoring organizations. Apparently, these conservative churches didn't have a problem being associated with BSA, and as explained in OC17, this created a major antigay shift in the makeup of the BSA. It also caused corporate funders to withdraw.
Some troops led by LGBTQ-supportive organizations have allowed gay adult leaders, and this policy, if enacted, would mean that BSA wouldn't take action against them, but it would still allow conservative-led troops to continue discriminating.
In view of the panicky reaction among the religious right, which is trying in many states to enshrine discrimination against LGBTQ people in the law in anticipation of the coming marriage equality decision from the Supreme Court (see, most recently, Indiana and Louisiana's Bobby Jindal), can we expect the conservative religious organizations that sponsor troops to do anything other than continue to discriminate? And if this happens, is the proposed new policy likely to have much effect?
Mr. Gates should be applauded for bringing this issue up, but it's hard to see how his proposal, if ultimately adopted, will really resolve the issue.
(May 2014) We congratulate The New York Times for shining an important light on transgender issues.
OutCasting featured in The Advocate
(November 2014) Read about OutCasting in The Advocate! "In-depth, well researched, and punchy in the right ways... NPR-level production values.... What makes all this remarkable is that most of the people working on the show... are barely old enough to drive."
Suicide of trans teen from Ohio
(December 31, 2014) OutCasting executive producer Marc Sophos comments on the December 2014 suicide of Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teenager from Ohio.
Olympic committee adds sexual orientation protection
(December 8, 2014) In an issue covered in OutCasting #21 — whether it was appropriate to hold the Olympics in Russia, a country in which the climate for LGBTQ people is extremely hostile — The Chicago Tribune reports that the International Olympic Committee has added language to the Olympic Charter prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. This will presumably reduce the chance that the Olympics will be held in countries with oppressive attitutes toward LGB people. It may be hard to enforce but it's a good start — but what about our transgender friends, who always seem to get left behind when we see these advances?
OutCasting, public radio's groundbreaking LGBTQ youth program, is produced by MFPG — MEDIA FOR THE PUBLIC GOOD, INC., a national nonprofit public media production organization with a local public radio heritage: for many years, it owned and operated a public radio station just north of New York City — WDFH FM 90.3 Westchester Public Radio. As MFPG, we can now focus more intently on production of programming while reaching a vastly larger audience than was possible running a single local public radio station.
Our mission: Giving a national voice to LGBTQ youth, training a new generation of media activists, and contributing to our national discussion of LGBTQ issues.
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