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MORALLY STRAIGHT

HOW THE FIGHT FOR LGBTQ INCLUSION CHANGED THE BOY SCOUTS―AND AMERICA

An inspiring report on how a quintessentially American youth organization finally exercised queer inclusivity.

A former Boy Scout analyzes how the group has evolved across tumultuous decades of LGBTQ+ exclusion.

“I was not athletic or popular in school,” writes journalist De Socio. “I was a nerdy, artistic kid who struggled mightily to fit in with my male peers, especially.” The Boy Scouts of America, he notes, became his “refuge.” He channels the significance of those boyhood experiences in a series of notable profiles and interviews with queer community members who found solidarity and belonging in the BSA. Unfortunately, some Boy Scouts, like De Socio, who achieved Eagle Scout status in 2011, discovered the group’s ban on gay members after they’d already become well established within the organization. Among the more illuminating interviews are those with John Halsey and Neil Lupton, lifelong BSA members who voted down the controversial policy at the group’s national meeting in 2013 and believed the ban should never have existed. The discussion delves into BSA’s earlier days, when it failed to address a rampant “pedophile problem,” and instead moved to prohibit queer members in writing in 1978. The author’s analysis dramatically covers how gay rights lawyers, employed by callously expelled gay scout James Dale, took the BSA membership discrimination fight to the Supreme Court. He also spotlights other cases of equality activism, including the plight of a lesbian den mother and how scout Steven Cozza’s grassroots initiative, “Scouting for All,” changed the face of queer scouting. The author combines his journalistic work with an interior perspective as a young Boy Scout “simultaneously observing and living through the gay membership debate,” and he concludes with upbeat coverage of “ArrowPride,” the “first official LGBTQ+ affinity space” in scouting, and a significant queer presence at the BSA’s 2023 National Jamboree.

An inspiring report on how a quintessentially American youth organization finally exercised queer inclusivity.

Pub Date: June 4, 2024

ISBN: 9781639363858

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

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Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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THE AGE OF GRIEVANCE

A welcome call to grow up and cut out the whining.

The New York Times columnist serves up a cogent argument for shelving the grudge and sucking it up.

In 1976, Tom Wolfe described the “me decade” as a pit of mindless narcissism. A half century later, Bruni, author of Born Round and other bestselling books, calls for a renaming: “‘Me Turning Point’ would have been more accurate, because the period of time since has been a nonstop me jamboree.” Our present cultural situation, he notes, is marked by constant grievance and endless grasping. The ensuing blame game has its pros. Donald Trump, he notes, “became a victor by playing the victim, and his most impassioned oratory, such as it was, focused not on the good that he could do for others but on the bad supposedly done to him.” Bruni is an unabashed liberal, and while he places most of the worst behavior on the right—he opens with Sean Hannity’s bleating lie that the Biden administration was diverting scarce baby formula from needy Americans to illegal immigrants—he also allows that the left side of the aisle has committed its share of whining. A case in point: the silencing of a professor for showing an image of Mohammed to art students, neither religiously proscribed nor done without ample warning, but complained about by self-appointed student censors. Still, “not all grievances are created equal,” he writes. “There is January 6, 2021, and there is everything else. Attempts by leaders on the right to minimize what happened that day and lump it together with protests on the left are as ludicrous as they are dangerous.” Whether from left or right, Bruni calls for a dose of humility on the part of all: “an amalgam of kindness, openness, and silliness might be an effective solvent for grievance.”

A welcome call to grow up and cut out the whining.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9781668016435

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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