Back  Back
Search Site: 

PFLAG Pinellas, Florida is standing Strong Against the Discrimination of the BSA: The BSA Should NOT Receive any Special Privileges in Our Public Schools Until It STOPS Discriminating Against Gay Youth and Adults and Atheists

Issues for the School Board Meeting of July 31, 2001, 1 p.m.:

Superintendent has listed as Consent Item No. 41 "Request Approval of the Agreement With the Boy Scouts of America, Inc., to Permit the use of School Board Facilities for Boy Scout Meetings"

Boy Scouts have requested use of 79 schools for a registration night this September.

Superintendent has proposed a blanket-use agreement to economize on processing of 79 separate agreements. HOWEVER: His final recommendation for approval includes approving this agreement "beginning August 1, 2001, and ending October 31, 2006."

Though this appears to be a 5-year period, running it from August thru October makes it a SIX school-openings contract.

Many of us believe that NO entity should have a SIX year contract with the school board, as much will surely change over so much time. It commits future superintendents and board members to an agreement they had nothing to say about, and it makes no allowance for costs changing over that time. (Energy costs may have skyrocketed.)

It appears to be an attempt to endorse the Boy Scouts of America even though one of their major policies (to exclude persons they refer to as "avowed homosexuals") is contrary to Pinellas County Schools' fundamental values (that discrimination and/or harassment based on sexual orientation is prohibited). (BSA have even dismissed non-gay leaders who have opposed the
policy of discrimination, giving the impression that they disagree with the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.)

In view of the fact that courts have ruled that school boards may not exclude Boy Scouts as long as they are not given preferential status (so they have to pay the same rate other non-profits would pay), there seems no point in protesting renting the space to the Boy Scouts.

It would educate board members and the viewing public, however, to request that the Board write to the West Central Florida Council of the Boy Scouts, headquartered in Seminole, urging that they request the national headquarters to drop its policy of discrimination. (It's very important that criticism be limited to the national policy; most board members have family members in Boy Scouts and have in the past taken very personally any implied criticism of local programs.)

We can point out to them:
That millions of Americans find their policy offensive, including a number of Scouting groups who have chosen to disband rather than comply;
That the American Medical Association has urged that they reverse the policy because of the risk of depression and suicide such negativity engenders in gay youth;
That at least 8 million young people live in gay households and it has to affect them negatively to hear from a respected organization that their parents, siblings, etc., are 'unacceptable;'
That on a recent 60 Minutes broadcast Leslie Stahl revealed that this policy of discrimination is largely driven by the Mormon church, and the Boy Scouts should not be expressing the policy of any particular religion;
That some Scout spokespersons have implied that they would accept gay leaders who were secretive about their orientation, thus contradicting their own policy of honesty;
That this policy is nowhere to be found in Boy Scouts of America's own literature and grows entirely from the present national leadership's interpretation that "morally straight" excludes sexual minority people, an interpretation that can only arise from the prejudiced belief that gay people are inherently objectionable.

National seems to have gotten itself backed into a corner, being unable to change their policy without admitting that they were wrong to spend millions on court cases; an alternative that has been suggested by about a dozen major regional councils, including New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, is that they make this an issue for local decision. This would allow them to drop it without appearing to back down.

We should urge our local council (West Central Florida Council, Boy Scouts of America, 11046 Johnson Blvd., Seminole 33772) to endorse this position to the national office, as well as urge our School Board to encourage the local Boy Scouts to do so.

If you can attend the meeting on Tuesday at 1 p.m. to address this issue, please do so. If you can't attend or aren't comfortable/ready/safe to speak at a televised event, you can write your concerns to the school board. Detailed information (e-mail addresses, etc.) can be found at: (And of course the more of our friends, neighbors, acquaintances, we can educate on the issue, the sooner it will be resolved).

Thanx for whatever you can do! (Please share any of this freely.)

Eileen O'Sullivan
Chair for Advocacy
PFLAG Pinellas

Back  Back
Search Site: