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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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BSA National Membership/Participation Report" for February 2001, Membership Continues on a Downward Trend

The Boy Scouts of America is experiencing a continuing membership decline, according to its own "National Membership/Participation Report" for February 2001 (RS0582, 03/02/01). The reasons for this decline are not completely
clear, but obviously relate to the continued controversy over the BSA's resistance to changing its policy excluding homosexuals and atheists, and to the perception, by parents and organizations who can use the Scouting program, that the BSA is discriminatory, narrow, homophobic, and bigoted. The questions parents are asking is, " Do we want our children in a youth
organization that teaches bigotry?"

The decline is across the whole range of Scouting programs, including Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting. The nationwide figures for February 2001 (compared with February 2000) show:
Cub Scouts down 5.0%,
Boy Scouts down 3.6%,
Venturers (a new, small program for girls and boys age 14 and older) up 22.1%,
total members in traditional programs down 3.4%.

Learning for Life programs in schools show:
elementary programs up 22.5%
middle-junior high programs up 21.0%
high school programs down 3.0%
career-oriented Exploring down 25.0%
total gain in participants 3.1%.
Learning for Life is a wholly owned subsidiary of the BSA which operates in-school and career-oriented programs, and which does not discriminate against homosexuals. The BSA seems to rely on the Learning For Life as a means to secure funding lost by their traditional scouting program. Funders are now asking, "How can the BSA discriminate against homosexuals in one part
of their program saying they are morally inferior and excluding them, then include them in their Learning for Life program?" The BSA is currently speaking out of both sides of their mouth.

(In 1998 Exploring was split into outdoor-oriented Venturers which remained in the traditional Scout programs, and career-oriented Exploring which was transferred to Learning for Life.)

The losses are most pronounced in the Northeast Region (New England to Virginia), with losses of 6.9% in traditional programs (-7.4% in Cub Scouting, -8.6% in Boy Scouting), and -9.6% in Learning for Life; and in the Western Region (Rocky Mountain states to the Pacific), with losses of 3.5% in traditional programs (-5.4% in Cub Scouting and -3.3% in Boy Scouting), and 1.0% in Learning for Life.

The smallest losses were in the Southern Region (-2.1%) and the Central Region (Midwest) (-1.9%). But even in the Midwest 12 local Scout councils showed losses of 10% or more.

The largest program loss was in Webelos Scouting (-6.2%) which prepares Cub Scouts to graduate into Boy Scouting. In the Northeast the Webelos were down 9.1% and in the West Webelos were down 11.1%.

Scouting for All, which opposes the ban on homosexuals, has noted that its membership is strongest in the Northeast and the West, and in larger cities and college towns, the areas showing the BSA's greatest losses. 80% of Scouting for All's volunteers are connected with Scouting, and 40% are Eagle Scouts.

"It would be a shame," said Dave Rice, Vice President of Scouting for All, "If the great program of Scouting were to lose and youth were to be denied Scouting because of the BSA's policies. Scouting should remain a strong, diverse program serving all youth in a diverse nation, not a smaller program limited to only the most conservative."

"What would a corporation board member do when confronted with such a significant loss of sales? he continued. What will the National Council and Executive Board and local Scout council's executive boards do? Is a change in policies in the wind?"

"It has been noted that the BSA is opposed to the beliefs of many liberal churches. In 1998 the Unitarian/Universalists were denied the right to teach their Scouts about their beliefs on homosexuality in earning the denomination's "Religion in Life" award. In the past year several United Churches of Christ have been denied charters for their Scout troops, including one 70-year-old troop, because of the Open and Affirming UCC's acceptance of homosexuals."

Written by Dave Rice, Vice President
Scouting For All
Kicked out of the BSA for his belief after 59 years in the program.




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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