Mailbag: Boy Scouts exactly what gay youth need

I know my story is not unique, but that is all the more reason to tell it. I grew up in the Boy Scouts of America and from the time I was a small child my mother was the Den Leader of our Cub Scout troop until I went off to college, and I was proud to have earned my Eagle Scout badge.

Between the weekly meetings, monthly campouts, annual summer camps, ski trips and canoe trips, the time and energy that I dedicated to the organization is astounding. That dedication is matched only by the leadership experience, confidence and character that I gained through my relationship with scouting. I wish that the story ended there, but it does not.

By the time I was finishing high school I was aware that I was gay; shortly after starting college I came out and became politically active. My commitment to integrity compelled me to share the truth about my sexual orientation. And a sense of community responsibility and leadership skills propelled me into working for justice for my GLBT peers. I owe much of my character to my family and church. But, I also recognize the values of integrity, responsibility and leadership were honed in my years with the Boy Scouts of America.

It became increasingly clear that I could no longer claim pride in an organization that would not accept me as a gay man. So I returned my Eagle Scout uniform and badge to the council. It was received there at the headquarters by my former scoutmaster and our family friend. It was one of the hardest days of my then 20-year-old life.

Again, a part of me wishes that the story ended there. But now over 10 years later, The Boy Scouts of America is in the midst of reevaluating its stance. Soon the Scouts' Executive Committee will send out a resolution to the 300 local scouting councils on whether to allow gay scouts, which they'll vote on at their annual meeting later this month. As someone who has been there, let me say bluntly that scouting offers what young gay men need most: confidence, camaraderie and responsibility.

To think that these might be available without judgment and rejection is why I am reaching out now. If you are or were involved with the Boy Scouts of America, please use this opportunity to make sure that those boys who most need what scouting has to offer are not left out.

Kent Doss

Laguna Beach


Local papers are important

The Laguna beach Coastline Pilot had all kinds of interesting and important articles last week.

It reported on a planned new study about widening the horrible two-lane bottle neck in Laguna Canyon from Forest Avenue to El Toro Road. With just two lanes it only takes one slow driver or accident to cause all these daily never-ending delays and dangers. This long overdue widening is the second most important thing for Laguna residents and visitors; only second to the first most important thing and that is at long last getting a usable view preservation ordinance.

The proposed new view ordinance is now in its final planning stages. Will the proposed view ordinance be any good? It will be if the committee and council meet the four simple goals I gave them.

Those are: fair, effective, enforceable by the city, and economical to use.

There was also a good article by Barbara Diamond on Congressman Dana Rohrabacher's recent meetings in Laguna. Rohrabacher is a real patriot and is not afraid to say and do what is right for the country.

Another important story was that some of the City Council are pushing to use competitive bidding for city services instead of single sourcing. Competitive bidding by outside contractors is the only economical way to assure that the tax payers are getting effective services at the least cost. Keep up the good reporting. We busy citizens need all this type of information.

Dave Connell

Laguna Beach


Marine act is 'a sham'

Quiz time: What things has the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) done to help kelp off of Laguna Beach?

Second question: How many sea animals must have macrocystis, giant kelp, to spawn?

The answer to both questions is none. The MLPA is a sham. It is being used to champion idealists' goals.

Laguna Beach continues to run beach equipment on Main Beach that destroys grunion spawning areas. Live kelp is plowed under. The city doesn't seem to be able to obey its own laws.

The MLPA only stops recreational fishing. So, believe facts or believe dreamers.

Randal Yates

Laguna Beach


Garden Club comes a knockin'

The day the Laguna Beach Garden Club announced that Lower Lombardy Lane is going to be "a point of interest" on its prestigious Spring Garden Tour was a mixed bag for some of us. My husband's 9-foot tall, welded "Nature Totem" sculpture will be featured in the guidebook. At first, visions of prior annual tours dance in my head. Then utter panic reigns supreme.

Our garden is no match for villas by the sea, terraced hillsides highlighted with Mediterranean poplars, cascading florescent bougainvillea, colossal Roman urns of violet plumbago and winding trails, where happy Buddhas and chubby cherubs reside. Even small cottage gardens of climbing Eden roses, dangling wisteria and spilling orange nasturtiums elevate our spirit and leave us in awe of Mother Nature and her caretakers.

Is this an uncharacteristic Garden Club snafu? As I survey our yard, my earthquake emergency training kicks in. Form a triage! That's it. First, Lost Causes trigger immediate guilt for my bouts of neglect or over watering — toss. Second, treatables can survive with a last minute infusion of compost and fertilizer —resuscitate. Third, indestructibles too hardy to kill, such as my prized succulents make anybody look accomplished — showcase.

Our next-door neighbor touches up her picket fence and gate with black paint in preparation for the big day. The country French garden next to hers is a regular feature in garden magazines and graces a vintage cottage built in 1926.

My kitchen window frames this magical garden, a view I savor with my morning cup of tea. But even a supreme gardener frets that her blooms may peak too late and miss the big day. Pressure in the neighborhood builds.

Our gazebo, which has been on my husband's "honey-do" list for years moves to the top. Its restoration begins with zeal as carloads of redwood fill our garage for the "project."

Now, I am not blaming the Garden Club for my husband's emergency sojourn at the Intensive Care Unit of Mission Hospital Laguna. But I will admit that the very next day after his release, he resumes fabricating the garden gate, which serves as an outstanding backdrop to "Nature Totem."

Do you think the Garden Club will notice if I tie plastic lemons to my uncooperative potted lemon tree? It's really too heavy to toss.

Pat Chatlin

Laguna Beach

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