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Community Day backs away from BSA over its gay policy

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Community Day backs away from BSA over its gay policy

 

http://www.pittchron.com/topstories.cfm?fullStory=true&articleID=1532

http://tinyurl.com/3cu4l3

 

By Toby Tabachnick

Staff Writer

 

After agreeing last spring to sponsor a Cub Scout pack at its facilities, Community Day has since rescinded its commitment because of the Boy Scouts of America's (BSA) policy barring avowed homosexuals from being scout leaders.

 

BSA believes that homosexual conduct "is not compatible with the aims and purposes of Scouting and that a known or avowed homosexual does not present a desirable role model for the youth in the Scouting program," according to its Web site.

 

"We were approached last spring about having a pack at school," said Avi Baran Munro, head of school. Although leadership at Community Day was aware of the BSA's policy regarding homosexuals at the time, "when we inquired, we understood that wouldn't impact our local experience," she continued. "We probably understood that wrong. We probably should have done more investigating."

 

"[Community Day] was informed of the policy by the Boy Scouts of America with regard to homosexual leaders," said C.W. Kreimer, organizer of the proposed Cub Scout pack, and chair of the Jewish Committee on Scouting, Greater Pittsburgh Council. "I never indicated to Mrs. Munro that this policy would be any different on a local level."

 

Because local scout troops are members of the national organization, they are mandated to follow BSA's national policies, said Mike Surbaugh, scout executive for the Greater Pittsburgh Council. "There is no local policy [on homosexual participation]."

 

The way the policy is employed is "similar to the military: don't ask, don't tell; we don't inquire," he continued. "We respect people's personal privacy. It's not our business. We are not an investigative agency."

 

The restriction on homosexual participation is limited to avowed homosexuals being registered as troop leaders, Surbaugh noted. "We would encourage a gay parent to participate with his son," by joining the troop for meetings and events, he said. "I know of many gay parents who have sons in the program."

 

BSA is a private membership group, and therefore is protected by the Constitution in its rights to establish and maintain standards of membership.

 

Community Day announced the formation of the Cub Scout pack in a flyer to parents in September. It also hosted a sign-up night on Sept. 25. About 10 boys signed up and paid the fees at that time, said Kreimer, and about five additional families expressed interest.

 

"Once we got started," Munro said, "dozens of families were concerned because of the discriminatory policies of the Boy Scouts."

 

Still, Community Day invited the Boy Scouts to set up a climbing wall at a carnival on school grounds on Oct. 7.

 

During the carnival, Mikal Nilsen and his partner Alan Crawford, Community Day parents, distributed flyers reading "National Jewish Committee on Scouting-Boy Scouts of America Discriminate."

 

"We showed her (Munro) the flyer and she said 'You have every right to [distribute it],' " Nilsen said.

 

When he found out that Community Day was sponsoring a Cub Scout pack, Crawford called the district division for BSA.

 

"I asked how would the rules apply to a child who has two dads? How would you feel if my son wanted to be involved?" Crawford said. "I was told he'd be completely welcome."

 

He then inquired if he, an open homosexual, could hold a leadership position in the Cub Scouts. He was told no. "I reported that to the school the Monday or Tuesday after the carnival," Crawford said.

 

Community Day has a policy of nondiscrimination, Munro said. "We learned more about it [the BSA policy] after we agreed to it, and after we got more information, we realized this would be in violation of our nondiscrimination policy."

 

That policy states that Community Day "does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, color, sexual orientation or national or ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies ... activities or other school administered programs."

 

"When we learned that a Community Day family would not be able to participate locally in a leadership position, we decided we couldn't continue to sponsor it at our school," Munro said. She made the decision after consulting with Community Day's board president and the administrative team. "A vote wasn't required," she said.

 

Reform Jewish leaders have long recommended that parents withdraw their children from BSA membership, and that congregations end their sponsorship of scout troops.

 

"To my mind, this is a question about Jewish values, and how we will define ourselves in our community," said Rabbi Aaron Bisno, a Community Day board member. "This is not a question about the good works the Boy Scouts provide. It's a question about the type of community we want to create."

 

Not all agree. "I am saddened by the policy decision at Community Day," wrote Rabbi Joseph Prouser, vice chair for programming of the National Jewish Committee on Scouting, in an open letter to the leaders and educators at Community Day. "I am saddened because of the opportunities for Jewish learning, personal growth, and spiritual enrichment which Community Day students have been deprived."

 

While not everyone on the National Jewish Committee on Scouting agrees with the BSA policy regarding homosexuals, said Prouser, "they see a greater good which should not be negated by this one debate. ... Those students would go through scouting and never be touched by this policy."

 

Kriemer saide "What I am most concerned about is the fact that instead of taking a position where [Community Day] could be a voice for change - as many rabbis in the Conservative and Reform movements advocate, [Community Day] has chosen to prevent their students from being enriched by all of the positives that Scouting brings."

 

"This would have been an opportunity for Community Day students to have positive peer pressure," Kreimer said. He is now looking for a new venue for the Cub Scout pack.

 

--

Toby Tabachnick can be reached at ttabachnick@pittchron.com

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I think it's fine for an organization that disagrees with BSA's membership policies to decline to be a chartered organization. As the article shows, some people think the disagreement is too central to justify participation, and others who disagree with the policy neverthless think that the overall benefits of participation justify joining and seeking change from within.

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Whether or not the article screams for a local option I don't know. I am pretty sure as long as National leaves the policy as it stands, there won't be a local option.

 

I certainly agree with the CO's decision to no longer sponsor the Cub Pack. They have to do what they feel is right, and it is their choice.

 

I don't believe inviting opposers to the BSA's policy, to join and seek change from within, will be productive. It would be similar to encouraging fundamentalist muslims to become members of the Christian faith, hoping to make them dump their belief in Christ and worship to their Mohammed or Allah instead. I see that as counter-productive.

 

Opposers aren't wanting assimilation or tolerance, they want to change a private organization's beliefs to reflect their own. Better to just not become members and not support the organization. There are other options for adult volunteers in youth enrichment programs out there.

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So according to the SE, gay parents are encouraged to participate with their sons at "meetings and events". This would seem to include hiking, camping, service projects, Courts of Honor, fund raisers and many other Scouting activities and events. They could even sit on Boards or Review. Very much like all other parents. They just couldn't wear a uniform. Go figure.

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Well Trev, technically speaking a Gay parent could not sit in on a Board of Review since you have to be a COmmittee Member to do so, then again, to sit on an Eagle Board of Review all you have to do is have an understanding of the importance and purpose of the Eagle Board of Review. So, it's all logical, a gay parent can't do anything official except staff an Eagle Board of Review.

 

Hmmm, upon reviewing the situation, I think I better think it out again...

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Nah, you're supposed to be a registered committee member to sit on a Board of Review, eh? Not that more than 20% of the units out there really adhere to that ;). But you're right about all the other.

 

It's a difficult and fuzzy line balancing good example with compassion. Seems like the difference between "being a full participant with your son" and "being a role model and leader for other boys" is an OK place to make a hard call.

 

Beavah

 

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Come on, OGE, you know you can't question the ALL-KNOWING BEAVAH! Just because the Advancement Committee Policy and Procedures book says the members of BOR are to be troop committee members (IN BOLD) and the SM Handbook says the same thing, that doesn't mean you have to actually follow those rules. They aren't the actual Boy Scout policies, or so says Beavah.

 

Here is his actual quote: "Guidebooks and such aren't the same thing as BSA policy."

 

I'm guessing Beavah who is the only person who has the real BSA policies.

 

And then there is his fall-back position, which I just love:

"It is always OK to modify the rules in a manner the rulemaker themselves would if they were present."

Take that position and run with it to your heart's desire! Make Scouting whatever you want it to be! Just don't ever make anyone stick to a standard - you might hurt someone's feelings or make a bump in the road on the superhighway to Eagle.

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"Those students would go through scouting and never be touched by this policy."

 

Does anyone else see what makes this statement by a spokesperson for the National Jewish Committee on Scouting so obviously wrong, especially at the Cub Scout level?

 

Students whose parents were same sex couples would indeed by touched by this policy - every day of their time in Scouting. When I was a Cub Scout, I was proud that my mother was a Den Mother and that my father was an Assistant Cubmaster as my scouting career started. Imagine the devastation a child that age would face (remembering to consider what a child that age would consider devastating - I cried for a week when my gerbil died when I was 8 - heck, I still remember her name - Ginger) if all of his friends parents could be Den Leaders or Cubmasters or Committee Members and he couldn't share that same level of pride in his parents just because they happened to be a same sex couple.

 

It't time for the BSA to just adopt the local option. Sure, the BSA can lay claim to legally discriminate against gays and athiests under the Freedom of Association portion of the First Amendment but it should be obvious that the BSA's freedom of association is often in direct conflict with their own sponsors, or potential sponsors, freedom of association and that when those sponsors, especially those sponsors that are a tight knit community such as Community Day hear from their members, the BSA loses sponsors and potential members.

 

Seems the BSA keeps insisting that Scouting is good for all boys but keeps holding onto a couple of large barriers to making Scouting available to all boys.

 

Calico

 

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Well now Brent, maybe we are being a little rough on the beavah. One thing I have learned over the years of internet posting is that sometimes mere words dont convey what is meant to be expressed. Without volume, facial gestures, intonation and hand movements we are deprived of most of the methods that our experience with communication is based on.

 

When only text is available for communication, then sometimes other devices are used to enhance the meaning, hyperbole, sarcasm, rhetorical questions, metaphors, allegories and that sort of thing. And sometimes regional differences come into play. When I was a kid growing up in Chicago, I always thought that Bugs Bunny was a real hoot, I mean, who talks like that? Calling everyone a maroon? Then I came to the east coast and have met several "bugs Bunny" impersonators even though they dont mean it. From my view being called a moron can either be an insult or a term of endearment and it may be said the same way from the same person. I think we at times take way to much umbrage with a persons style of communication. A person may be sharp and abrupt but always accurate, does that excuse his abruptness? No, but it doesnt diminish his accuracy rate either. I would love to curb a lot of peoples style here, but then, would it still be them? Most likely not and we could end up losing perspectives we would never have.

 

So, in retrospect, I dont expect that Beavah actually has data that show only 20% of BSA units populate their Boards of Review with the appropriate members. I am sure he was just making a point, and that point is just his opinion. After all, unless you are giving a reference, anything written is just opinion. Waugh! Imagine a platform where there is exchange of information and ideas and opinions where no one is restrained by some one elses rules on how to communicate and whose ideas stand for all to judge. Where people ask questions, receive information and then evaluate its usefullness. You may say I am a dreamer, but I am not the only one perhaps someday you will join us and the world will live as one.

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Why should the BSA abandon their stance on homosexuality? Because everyone else has? Because times have changed? Because a kid would be upset because his gay parents aren't allowed to be members because they don't meet the criteria? Where does it say everyone gets to do everything they want?

 

The BSA should stick to it's guns. In the end, they will be a stronger organization.

 

Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10

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OGE writes:

Well now Brent, maybe we are being a little rough on the beavah.

So how long have you been waiting to use that line, OGE? Or should I say, June Cleaver/Cleavah?

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