Boy Scouts and discrimination
Kudos to Sean Beckett for returning his Eagle Scout badge. He worked diligently to achieve this rank and it was a brave decision to take a stand against the national council.
I have looked at the membership of the Boy Scouts of America, and the numbers have been steadily decreasing, in part because of archaic and intractable regulations which fly in the face of changing social attitudes. In California recently, Ryan Andresen had fulfilled all the requirements for Eagle Scout rank and was approved by his local council but then rejected by the national board because of his orientation. A petition has garnered nearly half a million signatures on his behalf, but so far the decision stands.
About ten years ago, another Eagle Scout, Darrell Lambert, had his membership and assistant scoutmaster position revoked because he would not state he believed in God. Ultimately, he told the council they could “kiss my butt” if they would not accept his atheism.
As was pointed out in the appeal, the Boy Scouts show religious bias but receive public funding. They have guarantees from Washington that permit them to receive monies and have access to the use of government land for their jamborees, and are allowed to recruit new members through the schools.
Neither sexual orientation nor religious belief or lack thereof should be grounds for rejection of promotion, in the scout movement or elsewhere. Organizations that refuse to accommodate to social change will ultimately be swept into the dustbin of history.
Sean, I share your hope that your future children will be able to participate in a more enlightened scouting movement.
Scouts for equality
As the mother of a Life Scout working toward his Eagle rank, I was deeply affected by Sean Beckett’s letter to the editor last week and his decision to renounce his Eagle Scout rank. I too was aware of the Boy Scouts of America’s July 2012 decision to uphold its anti-homosexual policy; and though I am against this policy and believe it is in conflict with stated Boy Scout values, because it didn’t affect me, my son or anyone I knew personally, I did nothing about it. Because of Sean Beckett’s decision, I have now done some research and learned that this is an issue that is dividing Boy Scouting across America and that some large corporations have withdrawn their significant charitable contributions to the BSA because of this policy.
For anyone wishing to show support of Sean Beckett’s decision to renounce his Eagle Scout rank and to help bring about the elimination of the BSA’s anti-homosexual policy, please contact (and ask family and friends to contact): The Vermont BSA Green Mountain Council at 800-704-3089; firstname.lastname@example.org; P.O. Box 557, Waterbury, Vt. 05676, and/or The National Boys Scouts of America at 877-272-1910; email@example.com; 1325 W. Walnut Hill Lane, Irving, Tx. 75015.
Also, please consider joining the over one million signatures opposing the ban at www.scoutsforequality.com
I believe Sean Beckett has earned a Medal of Honor. Thank you for inspiring me to take a stand!
Proud of CY mentors
Sam Messer and Ricky Baker, a fourth-year mentor pair through Connecting Youth Mentoring at Williston Central School, were honored on Jan. 10 by the United Way of Chittenden County as “Hometown Heroes.” They were given the award live on WPTZ news by Tom Messner. They made me proud to know each of our dedicated volunteers and wonderful students, and to be a part of this caring community.
Each of the sixty CY Mentors at WCS is a “hometown hero.” They give freely of their time and talents to help their middle-school-aged mentees gain a sense of belonging and confidence: in their community; in their school and in themselves. Sam and Ricky were chosen for this special recognition because of their commitment to serving as “mentoring ambassadors” for Connecting Youth and Mobius. “We kind of have a special brother bond,” said Ricky. “Sam treats me like a brother, and I do the same to him. And we just love hanging out with each other.”
Sam said: “Mentoring is important in both our lives. For me, it’s a chance to come down off a crazy schedule and connect with another person. We have no agenda, no worries, we just enjoy our time. How often do people say they can do that during an action-packed week?”
“After a mentoring session, I really feel great,” said Ricky. “If I have a rough day at school, I can talk to my mentor about it and he helps me and cheers me up. I’m actually really sociable after I come back.”
For more information on how to get involved in CY Mentoring, please call me at 879-5874 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Connecting Youth Mentoring, Williston Central School
Green parking at CVU
When I come to school every morning I am amazed that almost every junior and senior at Champlain Valley Union High School drives themselves in a gas guzzling SUV or an old sedan with poor fuel economy. This results in around 500 vehicles with bad gas mileage, driving an average 16 mile round trip every school day. Using a 2000 Honda Civic as a test vehicle, this adds up to 604.5 tons CO2/year only from student driving. I propose a solution to this problem by way of four Hybrid/Electric Vehicle-only parking spaces closest to the front entrance of CVU. This idea has been implemented at many private businesses across the country. I hope that, along with this prestigious energy efficiency honor, these priority “Green Spaces” at CVU will encourage students to drive a hybrid car or carpool with a neighbor who has such a vehicle. As a CVU senior, I know that the prospect of the closest parking space is extremely enticing. Although these parking spaces at CVU will not do much to reduce emissions from student driving, it will get students thinking more consciously about their driving habits and be a stepping stone for larger energy projects in the future. With the assistance of CVU Student Council and the Environmental Action Club at CVU we are hoping to install these spaces. I urge you to contact Champlain Valley Union High School with your support of Green Spaces.
Support charging stations
Cars are great. Destroying the environment is not. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, transportation accounts for about 31 percent of the world’s total carbon emissions. Every day, I see hundreds and hundreds of different cars on the roads, taking people to their own individual destinations. Everybody seems to have a car. It’s a necessity in today’s world. But what if we could have a car that didn’t emit carbon into the atmosphere? Does such a thing exist? As a matter of fact, it does! Electric vehicles are cars that run solely off electricity, so they don’t put any carbon into the atmosphere when you drive them. They truly are the cars of the future. The use of EVs needs to increase monumentally in the next few years if we want to slow down the process of climate change. The greatest incentive is that you will never need to pay for gas again as long as you drive. Almost every manufacturer has their own zero emission model. If Vermont citizens want the use of electric vehicles to increase, they should support the Shumlin administration’s plan to build EV charging stations every 30 miles on Interstate 89. This idea needs to be approved by the state government. Having charging stations would make owning an EV in Vermont that much more practical, so if you’re interested help by showing your support.
State, auto companies should collaborate
According to the Northeast Regional Climate Center, 2012 set the record for the warmest average temperatures in the region. Burlington averaged 50 degrees, topping the previous high by 1.6 degrees.
Our usage of gasoline-powered vehicles is a significant contributor to CO2 emissions. According to 350.org, there are 392 parts per million of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which is above the 350-ppm safety limit. We have to start thinking about energy in a more efficiency-prioritized mindset. One way to start is to buy an electric vehicle—cars that are 100 percent electric, thus not powered by gasoline and not emitting CO2. They have outstanding mileage and in most states, state or local government give incentives to owners.
In Vermont, approximately 120 new electric vehicles are registered as of October 2012. Still more can be done to sell them at a higher rate. Auto companies must work with state and local government to promote them.
The Shumlin administration has already planned on building infrastructure for EVs, with charging stations every 30 miles on Interstate 89 north to Montreal. The Vermont Energy Investment Corporation has started creating signs indicating charging stations, yet this is still in need of approval by the local government.
Even though these two groups have done a lot for the future of EVs, they can unquestionably do more. Incentives and rebates to owners must be granted. Electric vehicles still have a lot of room to grow in Vermont.
It’s ultimately up to us if we want to get to see more EVs in Vermont. If we want to see the best-case scenario for electric vehicles, we need to start being more assertive with our local officials. Pressing the Shumlin administration to ramp up talks to start work on a greener highway or issuing incentives are starts.
Consider carpooling, electronic vehicles
Consider the last two times you drove in a car. Were you riding with another person? How fuel-efficient was the vehicle? How far did you go? Often, the answers to these questions can be discouraging. The average vehicle occupancy of cars in Vermont is only 1.08 persons per car, traveling an average of 46 minutes per day. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average fuel efficiency of U.S. cars sold in 2012 is 23.8 miles per gallon.
As a student of Champlain Valley Union High School, I’m keenly aware of this issue. Around 400 juniors and seniors drive themselves to school each morning and drive home at the end of the day in relatively inefficient cars, and carpooling is surprisingly scarce.
Changing one’s driving habits is a relatively easy way to avoid unnecessary fill-ups. Simply organizing with someone and carpooling can not only protect the environment, but also save money. In order to encourage more efficient driving habits, I am attempting to implement several hybrid/electric vehicle parking spaces in the CVU parking lot. Similar spaces have already been implemented in parking lots of many businesses and universities throughout the country.
In addition to being seen as an environmentally friendly campus, hybrid/EV parking spaces would encourage CVU students to be more conscientious of their driving habits. I urge you to contact the school with your support.