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The only alphabet guaranteed to make you want to wash your hands. Made by one, Jennifer Gardy.
In related news, this video taught me that the parasite giardia is sometimes called "beaver fever". Why? Because one of its major reservoirs — species that can comfortably host a parasite and pass it on to others — is, yes, the beaver.
Now here's the part you probably don't want to hear. Giardia is transmitted via what's known as the "fecal-oral route".
Now, nobody intentionally goes out and eats beaver shit. (One hopes. But this is the internet.) But beavers do shit in the woods. Near woodland streams. Which means that unwary hikers and backpackers can end up ingesting giardia when they drink from what appears to be crystal-clear waters.
On Monday, I published a letter from my husband, Christopher Baker, to the Boy Scouts of America. In that letter, Baker returned his hard-earned Eagle Scout award and explained that he no longer wanted to be associated with an organization that discriminated against gay teenagers and GBLT parents. By the end of the day, I'd posted six updates to that story—adding letters from other Eagle Scouts who had joined my husband in resigning from a fraternity they had loved and had worked incredibly hard to join.
The Boy Scouts of America is a private organization. The Supreme Court has said they have the right to discriminate. What these Eagle Scouts are saying is that legal precedent doesn't make the discrimination right. Overwhelmingly, they've said that it makes them sad to see the organization that meant so much to them go against the very values of inclusion that it taught them as children. As Baker wrote, "banning openly gay scouts and leaders is not a neutral position any more than separate-but-equal was a neutral position on race."
Yesterday, I received more letters from other Eagle Scouts who want the Boy Scouts of America to know how disappointed they are, and that they choose to stand with the persecuted rather than with the people doing the persecuting. In this post, you can read inspiring words from 13 Eagle Scouts who asked that I share their letters. In most cases, I've included a photo of the letter, and quoted text for easy reading. They're worth reading. These are amazing men.
Well, amazing men, and one woman. I'm starting out this collection with the letter of Dr. Julie Praus.
Read the rest
If you aren't familiar with American Boy Scouting's Eagle Scout award, it might be a little hard to explain how important this story really is. Eagle Scout is a big deal. For one thing, it takes a lot of work to get the position. A scout has to earn 21 merit badges and then spearhead a community service project that they organize and manage themselves from start to finish. Add to that the fact that most kids don't stay in scouts through high school anyway, and you end up with the award representing a relatively small and elite group. Since 1911, about 2.1 million men have earned an Eagle Scout award. And it has serious implications once you graduate high school. There are scholarships. Eagle Scouts who enlist in the military after high school can start off with a higher rank than their peers. The adult Eagle Scouts I know have told me that they've gotten interview call-backs or even job opportunities because the award was on their resumes. Basically, it's more than just this medal you pick up at age 17. For many men, it's a lifelong position—and one that demonstrates a commitment to serving others and caring for the community.
So when Eagle Scouts start returning their medals to the Boy Scouts of America, that matters. Especially when these men are making this decision because they think it's the best way to demonstrate the values of being an Eagle Scout.
The Boy Scouts of America bans participation in scouting by openly gay, bisexual, or transgender kids and bans GBLT adults from serving as scout masters. Legally, that's their right as a private organization. But that doesn't make it the right thing to do. Since the BSA doubled down on that position on July 17, I've seen letters from numerous Eagle Scouts who have sent their hard-earned awards back to the organization.
The letter pictured above was written by my husband, Christopher Baker. He mailed off his medal on Saturday. You can read the full text below.
Read the rest