Local Equality Summits
These one-day workshops bring people together for open and honest discussions about how to make the BSA a more welcoming environment for all people. Given the policy changes of the past few years, the main focus will be on the inclusion of gay Scouts and Scouters, but we will strive to discuss topics of diversity and inclusion on broader levels as well – especially topics where we feel the BSA has the most room to grow. The workshop includes group discussion sessions, leadership Q&A time, and training on Creating Welcoming Environments and SFE’s “YP+” Anti-Bullying program. We’ll also be featuring a viewing of Camp Abercorn, the pilot episode of a series following the lives of the staff at a fictionalized version of a Boy Scout summer camp. The workshop is designed for people involved in Scouting, or who are thinking about getting involved in Scouting in the future. Most specifically, this applies to the BSA, but people from all Scouting backgrounds are highly encouraged to attend, and it is open to the general public.
I saw a city listed, but it’s no longer here. What happened?
- Sometimes it’s difficult to predict the level of interest in a given area, and we need to plan far in advance in order to purchase flights for our facilitators. If we don’t have enough registrations by a certain deadline (usually 12 registrants by 6 weeks prior to the event), we may cancel that event and refund anyone who registered up to that point.
I’d really love to attend a summit, but I don’t see one near me. What can I do?
- If there’s enough interest in your area, we’d be happy to work with supporters in the area to try to get one organized! Please complete this form to let us know you’re interested in attending one (or organizing one) in your area.
Who is facilitating the program?
- The events are being planned and facilitated by Justin Wilson (Executive Director), Eric Busse (Training & Volunteer Engagement Director), and Jonathan Van Dyke (Community Director). Bios for each can be found here.
Why did SFE decide to start doing these events?
- We have seen a need for discussions on these topics, and we have yet to see any BSA training which serves this purpose. We also feel that day-to-day Scouting events are not the most appropriate locations for these kinds of conversations (at least not to the depth that we seek to discuss them).
What topics are open for discussion? What topics are off-limits?
- We will encourage open and honest discussion on all topics. We will largely be guided by the interests of the group. In some cases, the group may gravitate more towards topics of LGBT inclusion, whereas in other cases the group may focus a little more on race, socioeconomic status, religion, or other dimensions of diversity. No topics are off-limits.
- We do not seek to initiate any new campaigns or national debates on current membership standards through these events. However, we will encourage people to share their thoughts about policies related to gender identity, gender, religion, as well as their thoughts on their experiences in Scouting as related to topics of race and ethnicity (including the use of Native American regalia and cultures in the OA) and other dimensions of diversity. We believe strongly that, while the BSA is a private organization and may choose its own membership standards and program practices, we should encourage people to discuss these topics openly rather than attempt to stifle the conversation. Ultimately, this all circles back to our intention of creating a welcoming space. In order to do this, we cannot be telling people that their opinions or aspects of their identity are not open for discussion.
- To this point, it is possible that individuals will share aspects of their identity which could be in conflict with current BSA membership standards. It is imperative that all individuals in the room (volunteer and professional) are going to feel safe sharing any details that they wish to share without risk of losing their membership in the BSA.
Is this an adult-only training?
- We do not restrict these events based on an individual’s age. We only actively promote the event to adults, but if a youth’s family feels that he or she is mature enough for these discussions, they will be welcome to join. We suspect it would be most appropriate for people ages 15 and older, though.