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The local option on gay membership in BSA

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The following news story suggests that the Philadelphia council is conflict with national policy. Assuming the story is accurate, it is not obvious that there is a conflict. Food for thought...should a council that goes against national on such a controversial issue lose its charter?



Philly Scouts Promise No Discrimination

Thu May 29,10:45 AM ET Add U.S. National - AP to My Yahoo!


PHILADELPHIA - The nation's third largest Boy Scout council expanded its nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation, defying the national group's anti-gay stance.



The board of the Cradle of Liberty Council, which has 87,000 members in Philadelphia and two neighboring counties, voted unanimously this month to make the change after discussions with gay activists and other community leaders that began two years ago.


"We disagree with the national stance, and we're not comfortable with the stated national policy," council Chairman David H. Lipson Jr. said.


The code of the national Boy Scouts of America organization requires members to be "morally straight," though no written rule specifically addresses homosexuality.


A call to Scout headquarters in Irving, Texas, was not immediately returned Thursday. Its national convention was beginning Thursday in Philadelphia.


In 2000, the national group went to the Supreme Court to defend a ban on gay leaders, saying that as a private organization, it is free to choose its members however it wishes.


The Scouts won the case, but the battle led some businesses and public schools to reconsider their ties with the organization, and at least 50 United Way offices pulled their contributions.


A few months after the court victory, gay activists and others objected to funding by the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania for a youth development program run by the Boy Scouts, even though the program was open to anyone.


"The reality is, we did get some pressure from other groups who said, `This program may not discriminate, but this organization does,'" said Christine James-Brown, president of the regional United Way.


The United Way organized the talks that led to the council's nondiscrimination statement this month.


"There was anger about that (national) policy. I think people set that aside and said, `Let's try to make it work in this community,'" James-Brown said.


In July 2001, the Boston Minuteman Council approved a bylaw that effectively allows gays who don't reveal their sexual orientation.



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The charter is granted to a local council by the national council of the BSA. Removal is an option.


I'm glad my shoulder loops are silver (district or council) and am thankful that wiser heads than mine wear the gold on their shoulders.



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It should be remembered that in both cases here, Philly and Boston, only the Boards have been heard from thus far. Not the rank and file. Not the 87,000 members of the Philly Council, nor the thousands within the Boston Council. When the cards are finally laid on the table, and the question is called within each council, as it ultimately will be if by no other means than public sentiment and opinion within the ranks of volunteers and parents, then and only then will we know where each membership stands. The Council is nothing without it's membership. And experience teaches me that the Boards do not have their ears to the rank and file sufficiently to "know" what the rank and file's thoughts are. When the issue comes to the fore within each council, the memberships will speak.

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Let's see. National says no & this council wants to make up it's own rules regardless of what National says. Sounds like insubordination to me. It also sounds like there is some heavy lobbying going on in the Philly area & the powers that be in that council are giving into it. I, too, would like to hear what the rank & file have to say about it.


Ed Mori


Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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The way I see it is National is not going to do anything until it becomes public knowledge (in the news) that there is a homosexual leader in this council. Then my guess is that National will apply pressure to the responsible parties starting with the lowest level (COR and CO) to enforce the National policy. Each member/unit that refuses will then have their membership/charter removed in a surgical manner (minimum effect to enforce the message).

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The way I see it is National is not going to do anything until it becomes public knowledge (in the news) that there is a homosexual leader in this council.


That's already happened:




''The camp staff I work with know I'm gay,'' 18-year-old Life Scout Gregory Lattera of South Philadelphia told a news conference to protest the national ban on homosexuals in the scouts, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000.


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Here's what one of the 'rank & file' had to say in news:rec.scouting.issues at news:bb636002k0f@enews1.newsguy.com.

"We Philadelphia area Scouters have discussed this issue a great deal over the last few years. Some expressed the view that homosexuals are immoral and have no place in Scouting. (I suspect many of those fear the 'affect' a respected gay man may have on their son.) Others have stated that 'sexual orientation' doesn't matter.

"I believe that Scouting 'happens' within the patrol (or den) and unit. A unit committee should determine its own policy about the 'sexual orientation' of its leaders. Scouts and their parents who disagree with the committee's policy can join another unit. National should not dictate to units a policy regarding gay unit leaders.

"I am proud of my council for taking this stand."

I expect that most rank and file members will support the stand their council has taken.

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Here is my problem with local option on membership.


If the BSA allows each unit (and there are thousands of units)to each set their own membership policy where do we draw the line. If every unit can determine something as major as who can join, then how can the BSA say no to smaller local decisions such as advancement, uniforming, safety? How do have a national program if every unit can do whatever they want? Imagine the NFL if every team set their own rules of the game.


A second question out of curiosity. If there is such a huge demand by individuals or groups who are gay, lesbian or bi-sexual to be scouts and leaders why are there no known groups formed by these people to offer a substitue program until the BSA changes thier stance. There is not one organized program I have ever heard of lead by gay leaders for gay scouts. Why is that?


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The way I see it, is that if the homosexuals can get the B.S.A. to change it's mind on it's policies about this issue. The rest of the country will be easy for them to get thier point across,

Why does the majority of the people in this country have to bow down to the minority? What happened to us as a country? The moral majority should demand our rights. Not give in to a small percentage of people. We have rights also. National should revoke thier charter. They are not following our rules!!!!!!!!!!. What if we didn't follow rules, there would be chaos. Should I be able to become an Eagle Scout at 42?


I am very angry about this issue with the Cradle of Liberty Council. It just isn't right to make your own rules because of money not morals!!!


My 2 cents



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Bob White,


I think resources are a major problem to other groups forming their alternative scouting programs. Gays are a huge minority in this country and while a large portion of the population will defend them verbally, few will support them financially (which is the case for many groups). Also, how can you develop a program that rivals BSA? Scouting has some of the best land in the country and despite budget cuts, we still have plenty of financial backing. There may actually be plans to start up alternative groups, but it will take an enormous amount of resources to bring it to the national level. But who knows what the future holds. In the end, it's cheaper to argue about the BSA's stance than to start up a new program. And we probably all agree that there is no replacement for scouting.


Advisor Jim,


I don't want to enter into a debate with you, but there are a couple loopholes to your argument. You say, "It just isn't right to make your own rules because of money not morals!!!" Many people feel that it is immoral to exclude groups based on sexuality. Let's not argue about the legitimacy BSA has to do that as a private organization. You just have to understand that many people in this nation do not feel homosexuality is immoral and they believe that particular council is doing the moral thing.


Basically, I don't think any of us know the situation in that council. Is it pressure politically? Money? Does the majority of the council really consider the BSA stance wrong? I'm hesitant to judge them as greedy people who gave in to the vocal minority. Just my opinion.


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