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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.

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Mr. Crego,Pres. of the Otetiana Council, Rochester, NY says the Otetiana Council Does not Favor the BSA's Policy of Discrimination and Seeks Change to Allow Scout Sponsors and Units to Determine Membership as is Stated in the 1916
BSA Charter

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle


A widely publicized U.S. Supreme Court decision last June permitted the Boy Scouts of America to exclude gay leaders. As the volunteer president of Otetiana Council - the Boy Scout organization serving Monroe County - I never imagined the controversy that would soon overtake us when I took office nearly two years ago, or the dilemma in which we on the Otetiana Council board now find ourselves.

Otetiana Council is the equivalent of a franchise. As such, we are required to adhere to the rules of our national parent headquartered in Irving, Tex. As a 'franchise," we sponsor Scout youth programs, camporees, Pinewood Derb'ies and innumerable service projects.

Last year, for example, more than 24,000 Monroe County youths were involved in a Scouting program. That's nlearly one-third of Monroe County youths of Scouting age. Our Eagle Scout candidates alone performed nearly 28,000 hours of community service in fulfilling their Eagle service project requirements.

Also, as a franchise, the council must be self-supporting. We finance, staff and operate all our local programs, camps and activities. Our funding comes from various sources, including operational revenues, endowment income, and corporate and individual donations from our community.

For many decades, Otetiana Council has been recognized widely as one of our country's best Scout councils in terms of membership growth, finances, community support and quality of programs. In fact, the council earned the New York Governor's Award for Excellence in 1999 - the first not-for-profit organization to be so recognized. Because of our record of significant achievement, it is doubly frustrating for our council, with its 5,000 adult volunteers and dedicated professional staff, to suddenly be the subject of intense community disapproval because of the national Scout organization's policy toward gays. We have received communication from Rochester Mayor William A. Johnson Jr. and the City Council, some members of the City School Board and a number of our major supporters opposing the policy. I say that it's frustrating because Otetiana Council has had no part in implementing or maintaining that policy. We were never consulted about its creation and we have been given no opportunity to change it.

Let me be clear about a few things.

Neither I nor a majority of the Otetiana Council board favors the national policy. I am unaware of any Scout leader in our council being asked to leave his post because of his sexual orientation. Moreover. no Scout in our local organization has been denied membership because of his sexual orientation and it is my sincere hope that none ever will. To be sure, we have many different views on this subject as you might expect in a diverse organization with a board of 60 persons from al1 walks of life. But, overall, a majority of Otetiana Council's volunteer board leadership wants a change in the national organization's policy.
I believe that permitting local Scout councils or sponsoring organizations to make their own decisions on this issue is far more
preferable than making a determination based solely on a person's sexual orientation.

How do we in Rochester promote such a change, and is it realistic even to think it can happen? I honestly do not know. The national organization's attitude is anything but conciliatory. It appears to be perfectly willing to hold organizations such as Otetiana. Council hostage and to suffer the decimation of the Scouting programs in those parts of the country, such as New York City and Philadelphia, whose communities will not tolerate an exclusionary policy. Both New York City and Philadelphia have suffered significant membership decreases since government entities and school boards in those areas prohibited Scout use of their facilities. Membership is down 25 percent in New York City and 36 percent in Philadelphia.

As a practical matter, disassociation from the national organization is not a realistic option for us. Despite this, we have initiated a process designed to effect a change in the national policy.

This process will be led by a blueribbon panel of our active former presidents and will involve not only our community, but many others as well.

We are acutely aware of Rochester's historic contributions to the antislavery and women's suffrage movements and their latter-day legacy. We want to honor that legacy and , help to do our part to fulfill it.

Accordingly, I can only ask for patience and understanding from the community in the coming months as those of us who are committed to Scouting and all of the good that it does try to do our best to continue delivering a world-class program for the thousands of youths in our community and to change an unnecessary and ill-advised national policy.

Crego is president of the Otetiana Council, Boy Scouts of America.




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.

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