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A different outcome on policy on homosexuals

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The following story comes from Oak Park, Illinois. Apparently the chartered organizations last fall did not want to go along with BSA policy. Several renewals were rejected by the local council. Some of these cub scout packs will doubtless go out of business as a result.

 

Originally published in local weekly paper called Oak Leaves. PTO stands for "parent teacher organization."

 

Irving parents look at taking next step

BY JONATHAN MESSINGER

STAFF WRITER

 

The Boy Scouts rejection of the Oak Park PTO Councils Cub Scout charter has parents struggling to determine their childrens futures in scouting.

 

Jerry Ostergaard, a den leader for a second-graders at Irving, was an Eagle Scout just like his father. He'd like his son to have the same opportunity.

 

My biggest concern in all of this is the boys, he said. The problem is that they end up losing out, so I'm going to do my darnedest to keep scouting here.

 

Thats why he is meeting tonight with a group of parents to talk about self-chartering, at least for the next year.

 

I havent discriminated against anyone and I dont plan on discriminating against anyone, he said. I'm just frustrated that the boys lose out.

 

The Irving parents were the first of the seven Cub Scout packs in Oak Park to meet formally after receiving word last week that the Des Plaines Valley Council rejected their charter.

 

Mary Scherer-Edmunds, a den leader and Irving PTO co-president said she was surprised by the rejection, and would look for alternate programs for her boys.

 

Its not like I thought they'd embrace us she said. But I thought they would accept it as a tacit agreement.

 

We felt that as PTOs, serving public schools, we could not abide by a policy of discrimination.

 

At the meeting Monday, parents discussed what would happen next with the current pack at Irving said Kathy Egan, pack committee chairperson.

 

For the parents who want to go forward were looking at how to do that, she said. The PTO can release the charter to them or let it expire and have them start up a new pack entirely.

 

The consensus was to do whats easiest logistically.

 

Egan said she would try to start a Camp Fire Boys and Girls group.

 

The rejection stems from the Oak Park PTO Councils November letter attached to their charter, aligning themselves with the Village Diversity Statement instead of with the Boy Scouts of Americas ban on gay scout leaders.

 

Roughly 300 children are involved in Oak Park scouting. The Beye pack re-chartered with Cornerstone Church back in November. Whittier pack leaders will meet tonight to discuss the situation.

 

Irene Clute, PTO co-chair, said leaders at other schools will probably follow suit and meet in the coming week.

 

I'd imagine everyone will be getting together because there isnt a lot of time, she said. Parents have until Feb. 28 to renew the current charter.

 

Both sides stress there is no divisive air among parents. Ostergaard said he does not begrudge the PTO Councils decision, though he disagreed with it. Commenting on the national attention the matter has drawn 60 Minutes was at Monday nights meeting he said he hopes the story is told fairly.

 

Some parents never joined after this, they felt strongly and thats their right, he said. I'm going to talk with parents (about self-chartering) and if they are interested in it or not I respect their decision.

 

Debra Quantock-McCarey took her children out of the Cub Scouts in November. She too said there was no animosity among parents.

 

This whole issue is so personal, she said. Every person has the right to their own opinion ... . We respect those that go on, but for us the BSA is wrong.

 

 

 

 

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