Thursday, December 6, 2012

Roosevelt Island Boy Scout Christmas Trees On Sale Starting Tomorrow At Motorgate Garage - Support Local Boy Scout Troop Or Not Because Of National Organization's Anti Gay Policy?

Are you looking to buy a Roosevelt Island Christmas tree like the reader below who asked as others have:

I'm a resident at 540 Main street and last year we had such wonderful luck with the Boy Scouts selling Christmas tree's under the bridge by the super-market...and was wondering if that was happening again this year?
A Roosevelt Island Boy Scout leader reports:
The Boy Scouts will be selling trees again this year.

The schedule is the following.
Friday, Dec. 7th, 6-8pm
Saturday, Dec. 8th, 10am-6pm
Sunday, Dec. 9th, 1pm-6pm
Friday, Dec. 14th, 6-8pm
Saturday, Dec. 15th, 10am-6pm
Sunday, Dec. 16th, 1pm=6pm
Friday, Dec. 21st, 6-8pm
Saturday, Dec. 22nd, 10am-6pm
Sunday, Dec. 23rd, 1pm-6pm

I have seen posts in the past talking about cheaper trees at Costco. However, the trees the Scouts sell are locally grown and transported the day after they are cut. That's why they look and smell fresh and last well. Most other trees sold in NYC are transported from the west coast and spend weeks in transit.

For those sensitive to environmental concerns, the trees being locally grown and transported means that the net carbon footprint is negative. During their 6-9 year growing period, the trees sequester more carbon dioxide than is emitted in processing and transporting them.

Lastly, I have seen criticism of the Boy Scouts as an organization. I share those concerns. I have been associated with Troop 59 for decades. We had to think long and hard after a national policy was adopted discriminating against gay scout leaders. If we had disbanded the Troop, the only ones hurt would have been our local scouts. If we had separated from Boy Scouts, we would have lost insurance coverage among other things which would have rendered it nearly impossible to carry on. We decided to continue while upholding our own views about diversity and inclusion. Virtually all the Scout leaders I have come to know in the New York area feel similarly and refuse to go along with the narrow-minded policies promulgated by the national organization. I believe that supporting our local Roosevelt Island Scout Troop 59 does no harm to a philosophy of inclusion.
There has been quite a robust discussion on the December 7 Roosevelt Island Tree Lighting thread regarding whether to purchase a Christmas Tree from the the local Roosevelt Island Boy Scouts troop because, as stated by reader Yet Another RI'er:
... of their open anti-gay policies.
which drew this reply from m president:
That is the fault of the administration of the organization, not the kids selling trees. Let them have their camping trip or whatever they do with the money, and protest the scouting organization in another way.
and from Jesse Webster:
The administration of BSA has not listened to other forms of protest, so those of us who disagree with their policies have no choice but to vote with our wallets. Money tends to get the attention of non-profit leaders (recall Susan G. Komen for the Cure's experience in re: Planned Parenthood).

The Boy Scouts' anti-gay policies are not only discriminatory against openly gay adults. They are also incredibly damaging to the scouts who might be gay themselves. Even though most of the youngest kids have no idea about their orientation, the older they get the more such anti-gay rhetoric has the potential to negatively affect them. Even years later, the experience can have a terrible impact.

According to Wikipedia (, "Clinical social worker Caitlin Ryan's Family Acceptance Project (California State University, San Francisco) conducted the first study of the effect of family acceptance and rejection on the health, mental health and well-being of LGBT youth, including suicide, HIV/AIDS and homelessness. Their research shows that LGBT youths 'who experience high levels of rejection from their families during adolescence (when compared with those young people who experienced little or no rejection from parents and caregivers) were more than eight times [as] likely to have attempted suicide, more than six times [as] likely to report high levels of depression, more than three times [as] likely to use illegal drugs and more than three times [as] likely to be at high risk for HIV or other STDs' by the time they reach their early 20s."

Beyond the risk to the kids who might be gay, participating in an organization that is openly anti-gay demonstrates a tacit approval of the anti-gay views, even for non-gay kids and even if you as a parent or community member don't share them. This contributes to bullying in schools and in the community in general.

For me, this is enough of a reason to refrain from supporting an organization with openly anti-gay views. I agree with YetAnotherRIer and will not give my money to BSA, and if I had kids I wouldn't allow them to participate in the organization on any level.
 and from Frank Farance:
Both you and Jesse misunderstand the nature of a protest: if your complaint doesn't get heard by the people you want to change, then that's a poor protest. I agree with you that the top-level organization has a bad policy, but your protest on the fundraiser only hurts the boys and not the central organization.

The fees that go back to the administration are the $15 annual registration fee and the $20 unit charter fee, which are most likely paid already by the boys. See ""

Here's a sample spreadsheet ("", see third page) from ANOTHER troop with 25 scouts and fundraisers with a total budget of approximately $6600 of which $395 goes back to BSA in registration ($375) and charter ($20) fees. Most of their budget is going for a week long summer camping trip ($4000) plus equipment ($800 for tents, stoves, etc.).

That's what it looks like: very little of their money goes to BSA, which (to take both of your points) is probably why BSA "Central" is insulated against your kind of protests.

So not buying Christmas trees has NO PROTEST VALUE and wrecking the fundraising only does harm to the boys *LOCAL* activities. Camping/hiking/skiing trips, etc. are helped by fundraisers, but the money to the administrators are unrelated to fundraisers.

The whole idea of boycotting their fundraiser (1) is misguided, (2) only hurts the boys, (3) has no effect on BSA policy.

Presumably when the military had its Don't Ask Don't Tell policy (which is similar to BSA), you'd feel thankless towards vets and look at closeted soldiers as hypocrites because you disagreed with the national policy at the time, right?
More comments on topic begin here.


mpresident said...

I got my tree today! It looks great!

Kathleen said...

Does anyone know if the Boy Scouts are still selling Christmas trees? I went there at ~ 7:30 tonight (Friday) and no one was there. And I didn't even see any trees... Thanks!

Frank Farance said...

Saw them selling at their "storefront" next to China 1. They still had trees as of mid day.

YetAnotherRIer said...

Here is a petition on that pretty much summarizes the problems that I and many others have with the BSA. I have major doubt that this could never happen at any of the NYC troops.

Frank Farance said...

YetAnotherRIer, I read the petition/supporting-info, and I signed it. Yes, a sad story. Here are my petition comments:

The discriminatory nature is counter to the Scout Oath (see official
interpretation "")

BSA should (1) formally interpret Scout Oath/Law and explain how being gay is a violation, (2) explain why their discriminatory policy doesn't violate Scout Oath/Law.

Sexual conduct is already prohibited within Boy Scouts, so discriminating against sexual orientation seems to violate the Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Brave, Clean, and Reverent provisions of Scout Law (see official interpretation

The Greater New York Council seems to have weakened the discriminatory provisions: finessing this by limiting its approach on enforcing this bad policy. As an analogy, if national policy is to remove members who wear Blue Shirts, but the local policy is for everyone to wear blindfolds and not talk about shirt color, then (effectively)
you've neutered the policy. However, it doesn't prevent the national organization from revoking membership (read: don't announce you're gay). Not ideal, but the national policy can be weakened.

Regardless, BSA should change its national policy.

CheshireKitty said...

Thanks, signed. Here's my comment on the petition: I thought the credo of the Boy Scouts is to teach tolerance, and not to discriminate. The Boy Scouts needs to update its policies and accept gays, both as scouts and employees.