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Otetiana Council, 474 East Ave., Rochester, New York

Otetiana Council Boy Scouts of America attempts to mislead the public, BSA members and funders with so called new policy. The Otetiana Council's "new policy" regarding membership standards is nothing new. The BSA has always had membership standards about inappropriate behavior i.e. doing drugs with the boys, getting drunk on an outing, placing the boys safety in jeopardy and so on. If you ask an official of the Otetiana Council if they follow the BSA National policy of excluding gay youth and adults they will tell you they absolutely do adhere to the BSA National discriminatory policy. This is the BSA National as well as some Scout Councils attempt to dupe the public to secure funding and membership. Scouting for All warns not to be fooled. Don't fund the BSA until they rescind their policy of discrimination.

Scott Cozza, Pres.
Scouting for All

Some Scout councils are attempting to mislead funders and the American public to secure funding and membership. This should
be posted with your comments today or tomorrow.

Otetiana Council (Rochester, NY) just announced a new policy that said that they don't discriminate against gays but instead discriminate against people who exhibit inappropriate sexual behavior. Ostensibly, this sounds great. But then they say that their
policy is consistent with the BSA's policy against "avowed homosexuals."

Our local newspaper just printed a letter I wrote on this topic. My point was that it's great that they're trying to be more inclusive, but that I hope they will have the same standards for "inappropriate sexual behavior" from gay and straight people. Is it inappropriate for a gay scoutmaster to bring his partner to a court of honor or troop picnic? The policy is very vague on this, which makes me think that they're just trying to appease protesters without actually changing anything.

-Ed Klorman

Local Scouts avoid ban on gays  Otetiana Council focuses on behavior rather than sexuality  By Meaghan M. McDermott  Democrat and Chronicle    
(Tuesday, June 12, 2001) -- Homosexuals may be able to serve  as Boy Scout leaders in the Rochester area as long as they  don't engage in publicly inappropriate behavior, according to  a new Otetiana Council, Inc. membership standards statement.    The statement says the council will not inquire about the  sexual orientation of current or prospective members, but  "will exclude a scoutmaster or member if his or her sexuality  or behavior becomes publicly appropriate as judged by the  Otetiana Council."    

The position statement does not specifically defy or oppose  the national Boy Scouts of America's stance against "avowed  homosexuals." However, it does shift the membership criteria  from sexual orientation to public behavior -- effectively  giving organizations that sponsor troops greater leeway in  selecting leaders.    

"The key to Boy Scout programs is our relationships with these  charter organizations," said Larry Pritchard, executive  director of the Otetiana Council. "And our charter  organizations get to pick the leaders they want working with  their kids."    

Pritchard said the statement -- written by a committee of  former council presidents with input from community groups,  and approved by the National Council of the Boy Scouts of  America -- covers sexual behavior of both heterosexual and omosexual

However, he was unable to provide specific examples of  behaviors that may be deemed publicly inappropriate.    

"Issues aren't as simple as good and bad and black and white,"  Pritchard said.    

The Otetiana Council is one of only a handful of councils  across the nation that has instructed its charters that sexual  orientation alone does not have to be grounds for immediate dismissal from Scouting programs, said Scott Pusillo,  northeast regional
director of Scouting for All. The  California-based group is dedicated to fighting the Boy Scouts  of America's anti-gay and anti-atheist policies.  

 "Scouting for All makes no attempt to force its beliefs on  anybody -- some religious organizations and other charter  organizations will never welcome homosexuals while other  charters will," he said.    

The new statement is a good first step, said Rob Gelder,  executive director of the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley,  but, "It needs further clarification."    Kurt Albers of Victor has two sons in Scouting programs, and  he believes this new policy is little
more than a version of  "don't ask, don't tell."    He fully supports the stringent ban on homosexuals. "This  (position statement) is a step in the wrong direction," he  said. "It weakens the national policy -- the Supreme Court  upheld that private organizations can set their own membership  rules."  

 "This is nothing against the people," he said, adding that his  position is informed by his faith.    The Lutheran Church of the Transfiguration on Culver Road in  Irondequoit has never taken a position on gays in Scouting, so  Mike Leone, congregation president, isn't sure the policy  change would have any effect on his church or its troops.  

"We take the position that Scouts is a good organization for  young people and the benefits of that should not be taken away  based on a political statement."    Pritchard said no Otetiana Council youth members have been  expelled for their sexuality, but in the past, there have been  some adult leaders -- both heterosexual and homosexual -- who  have been asked to leave because of their sexual behavior.  Pritchard would not elaborate.    

Some councils, such as the Piedmont Council in Piedmont,  Calif., have refused to follow the ban and others, such as the  Indianhead Council of St. Paul, Minn., have asked Boy Scouts  of America to reconsider the policy without any repercussions.    But Boy Scouts of America declined to renew the charters of  seven Oak Park, Ill., troops whose sponsor groups had  anti-discrimination policies that clashed with the national  policy.    

The Otetiana Council has more than 5,000 adult volunteers in  the Monroe County area and serves more than 13,000 youths.    "We want to make sure the Scouting community as well as our  traditional advocates are aware of the fact the Otetiana  Council is working as hard as it can to make sure our programs  are available to the largest number of youths possible, said  Pritchard. "We don't want any youngster ... who could benefit  ... to not be able to."   The following was included in a sidbar to this article:     

The Hiawatha Seaway Council (Syracuse) will ask its members, or those considering membership, to subscribe to those behavior standards best illustrated by the Scout Oath and Law. Inappropriate behavior may hinder the  Hiawatha Seaway Council from attaining its long established goals of serving youth through the Scout Oath and Law. Consequently, the Hiawatha Seaway Council reserves the right to deny membership if an individual's behavior, sexual or otherwise, is publicly inappropriate.

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