Latest News

Activist Groups Urge Obama to Reject Boy Scout Honor

From Fox News:

Activist groups, including Scouting for All, urge President Obama not to accept the honorary Presidency of the Boy Scouts of America until they stop discriminating.

Scouting for All is a 100% Volunteer 501-(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization. Every dollar donated goes toward our education and advocacy programs, and is tax deductible.

PayPal Pixel

Visitor Count:
Page Counter

Petition Count:

Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ, Madison, WI says no to the Boy Scouts of America: refuses to sponsor bigotry

The Capital Times news, Madison, Wisconsin

Scouts' gay woes spread

Church here severs tie to groupBy Pat Schneider

February 13, 2001
The Supreme Court says it's OK for the Boy Scouts of America to discriminate against homosexuals, but members of the Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ in Madison don't agree.The southwest side church has withdrawn its sponsorship of a Boy Scout troop because of the national organization's policy excluding gay Scouts and leaders."The Scouting policy is inconsistent with our policy of affirming and welcoming gay and lesbian people," said the Rev. Winton Boyd, pastor of the congregation.The move, taken in January, was difficult, but the congregation's board of directors felt it was necessary, Boyd said, despite a policy statement by the local Four Lakes Council similar to the U.S. Army's "don't ask, don't tell" approach."We welcome people to be 'out,' we are affirming of them being out," said Boyd. "We can't turn around and say, 'We won't tell.'

"Pressure on the Boy Scouts of America to end its ban on homosexuals has been building through packs and troops across the country following a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June that found the organization did not illegally discriminate by barring gays.United Way organizations in some areas traditionally majorfunders of Scouting groups, including the local Four Lakes Council are reconsidering or withdrawing financial support.The United Way of Dane County has adopted a nondiscrimination policy that calls for determining whether the targeting of services to certain groups by funded agencies is reasonably related to providing services. What the result of the new policy will mean for United Way funding of the Four Lakes Council won't be known for several weeks at least.

The Four Lakes Council's board of directors in September adopted a policy endorsing tolerance and diversity within the Scouting ranks and stating that prospective youth members and adult leaders are not asked about their sexual preference."We allow youth to live as children and enjoy Scouting and its diversity without immersing them in the politics of the day," reads the policy.

But sponsors of some area Boy Scout troops and packs, and parents of the boys participating in them, are going on record against the ban on participation by homosexuals.The First Congregational Church, also a United Church of Christ, is considering surrendering its sponsorship of a Boy Scout troop after 80 years to protest the organization's ban."We are very concerned," Jerry Hancock of the church's board of directors said of the Boy Scouts' policy. As a congregation consciously dedicated to welcoming gay and lesbian members, congregants felt "an obligation to be very explicit and public that we are proud to be that kind of church and that other institutions should be open to all people as well," Hancock said.

Hancock characterized the reaction of leaders of the local troop as "heart-stricken." "They have always made clear to the church they did not discriminate and have sponsored resolutions to the local organization against discrimination. We are trying to find some way to continue the relationship with the troop," he said.

In Orchard Ridge, the local neighborhood association has assumed sponsorship of the troop Scouting rules require troops and packs to have a sponsoring organization and troop members continue to meet in the church building."We wanted to back up Scouting for the kids' sake and leave the politics behind," said Scott Peters, president of the Orchard Ridge Community Club.

Parents of a Cub Scout den on the near west side were ready to withdraw their boys from the organization in protest of its ban on gays, but decided earlier this month to try to press the national organization for a change in policy instead."We were persuaded that if we were interested in working for change on the issue and fighting the principle (on homosexuality) from the national organization, we would work more effectively from within," said Steve Nadler, a UW-Madison philosophy professor whose son is a member of Den 4 of Cub Scout Pack 302, which meets at Randall Elementary School.

Nadler said that if the Scouting organization wants to teach boys about values, the question of sexual orientation gives it a great opportunity."Why not openly discuss values, especially the value of tolerance? If this is a learning experience, let's teach kid about the value of differences," Nadler said.

Strategies being discussed by Den 4 parents include participating in an AIDS march and writing Scouting officials to press for a change in policy. Already, the sponsors of Pack 302 have sent Four Lakes Council a statement that they do not believe Scouting laws can be interpreted to mean that Scouting should discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation."We believe that sexual orientation is irrelevant to a person's ability and fitness to be a moral and ethical role model as set forth in the Scout oath and the Scout law, and therefore do not discriminate on any basis whatsoever," wrote members of the board of the Franklin-Randall Parent-Teacher Organization, which holds the Scouting charter for the groups based at the schools.

At Frank Allis school on the city's east side, members of the Parent-Teacher Association were to meet tonight to discuss whether to continue to sponsor a Scout troop.Chuck Dobbins, Scouting executive for the Four Lakes Council, said protests against the Scouting policy on homosexuals have taken every form from formal statements to a former Scout's return of his merit badge sash."But most of the phone calls I get are very much in our favor," said Dobbins. "There's been a tremendous amount of support for us."One sign of that support was evident Monday night at the Sun Prairie School Board meeting, where about 75 local Boy and Cub Scouts and leaders turned out to receive the backing of the School Board. Board member Mike Matzke had invited the Scouts in an effort to distinguish Sun Prairie's boardfrom the Madison School Board, which recently condemned the Boy Scouts of America for excluding gays.Dobbins said the Four Lakes Council is ahead of schedule on its $3.5 million capital campaign for camping facilities launched last fall. "We've gotten support from some who say they don't agree with the policy on homosexuals but value Scouting's contributions to the community," Dobbins said.

Scouting's prohibition on homosexuality is imbedded in Boy Scout laws all members must adhere to, including one to "keep myself clean and morally straight," Dobbins said. The wording of the 90-year-old law is interpreted to outlaw gays, he said. A Boy Scout pledge to fulfill "duty to God," is construed by the national organization as outlawing membership by atheists, Dobbins added.

The Supreme Court ruling last year did not change the Scouting laws, Dobbins said. "Maybe it heightened people's awareness of it, but we've been saying for years it is our right to hold these things sacred."Hancock, of First Congregational Church, who is an attorney, said he is troubled by the lengths to which the national Scouting leadership went to establish its right to discriminate."These are very important issues," he said. "You wouldn't have though that the question of whether to recharter a Boy Scout troop would have such powerful implications. But our church believes God's love extends to people of all sexual orientations."



Scouting For All is not an alternative scouting program.
We are an education and advocacy organization reaching out to gay and nontheist youth and adults in our effort to get the Boy Scouts of America to rescind its exlusionary policy.

Any communications sent to Scouting for All or any Scouting for All representative may be published on the Scouting for All web site or in Scouting for All materials unless the communication specifically requests that it not be published.

Copyright 1999-2009 Scouting for All and its content providors.