Let me show you what discrimination looks like in real life. It hurts.

Just because the Boy Scouts of America can exclude people because of their sexual orientation doesn't mean they should.

Imagine how you'd feel if you were told your child could remain part of a group but that you were unwelcome because of who you were.

Adella Freeman doesn't have to imagine. She says was recently told she wasn't welcome as a committee member in her son's Boy Scout troop. The reason? She's gay. This is what discrimination looks like.


Adella and her partner are parents to three kids, the eldest of which has been a Boy Scout for eight years. 15-year-old Nick (pictured above, left) was just a year away from becoming an Eagle Scout and had joined a new troop after the one he previously belonged to dissolved due to low membership.

Adella submitted an application to the new troop for family committee membership and assumed it would be accepted. After all, her family had been committee members for the eight years Nick was in other troops.

But she was wrong.

Instead, she says a leader from the troop approached her at a meeting and pulled her aside. She explains:

"The leader who approached me stated that it had been brought to his attention that it was a possibility that we were gay and because of that, he would have to ask that we withdraw our applications, which they had not even submitted since we had joined, or we could pretend the conversation hadn't happened and not mention anything else."

Adella left the meeting and sat in her car, knowing she was going to have to tell her son (who hadn't been a part of the conversation) what happened once he came out.

How could this happen?

Easily. The Boy Scouts of America is legally allowed to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation.

Back in 2000, the Supreme Court ruled that the Boy Scouts of America could legally exclude gay scouts and gay leaders because of their sexual orientation. 14 years later, on January 1, 2014, the Boy Scouts lifted the ban on openly gay scouts, agreeing to be more inclusive by allowing anyone to become a Boy Scout.

But the ban on gay leaders remained.

Adella believed that committee membership was different than leadership and therefore didn't think that the ban applied to her. Based on Adella's recount of what happened, her son's troop disagreed.


When Nick finished up the meeting and came to the car, Adella told him what happened. Knowing her son had dedicated over half his life to the Boy Scouts, she offered him the option of remaining a part of the troop and distancing herself. He declined, saying that he wasn't willing to be part of an organization that didn't welcome his family.

"He was amazed that people would be so hurtful and discriminate ... like that," Adella said. "We have raised our kids to be respectful and accepting to everyone, and they are not used to seeing this sort of behavior."

So what now?

Adella is determined to not let this happen to other families.

"I would love to see the Boy Scouts change the policy to include all families. All families are important. I would like for the Boy Scouts to know that they really don't hurt the adults with this policy as much as they hurt the boys. The boys are the ones who suffer."

Adella is a chapter lead for Scouts for Equality. You can learn more about the organization and how to support it.

She also started a petition on change.org, asking the Boy Scouts to allow all families to be members. You can add your name to the petition, joining at least 60,000 other people who already have — and ask your friends and family to do the same.

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

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Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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