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Hugh Scout Troop From Garfield High School, Seattle, WA, Resigns From The Boy Scouts of America and Joins An Alternative Outdoor Youth Program, The Mountaineers



10/05/01
Dear Safe Schools Coalition members and friends,
We are very excited to be able to announce that one of the biggest Boy Scout units in Washington State, the Garfield High School Outdoor Program, has officially resigned from the Boy Scouts. This school year they have made an historic move to a non-discriminatory sponsor: The Mountaineers. Seattle Public Schools' Garfield High School Outdoors Program is a stellar
environmental studies program. By June of each year it has provided opportunities for approximately 500 members to go scuba diving, mountain-climbing, kayaking, and to otherwise learn how to function in and protect nature. Student leaders organize it all, with their faculty advisor and parent volunteers serving to support and guide, rather than run the program. These student leaders take a class during the school day for credit, with a remarkable teacher, Jenni Maughan. You may recall that last year the
student leaders of the Outdoors Program, with the support of the school district, requested that the Chief Seattle Boy Scout Council change their official status from "Venture Crew" -- Venture Crews, like other mainstream Boy Scout units such as Cub Scout Packs and Boy Scout Troops, officially discriminate against atheists and gays -- into that of "Explorer Post" -- Explorers, as part of the "Learning for Life" program, do not refuse people membership based on religious beliefs or sexual orientation. The Boy Scouts eventually did agree to change the Program's status. The student leaders of the Outdoor Program appreciated that decision. But as students in a public school, they continued to be troubled at the idea of sending their dues to a discriminating organization, even if they were allowed not to discriminate. It felt like a temporary fix, at best. So they did a lot of research to identify an organization other than the Boy Scouts with which to affiliate -- one that not only didn't discriminate, but also had the expertise and insurance to support the kinds of outdoor adventure that is the lifeblood of the group. They found a new and welcoming home at The Mountaineers!! The Mountaineers [www.mountaineers.org] is one of the oldest and largest organizations in the United States devoted to exploration, enjoyment and conservation of the outdoors and wilderness areas. The club welcomes members of either gender, and of any age, race, ethnic background, religion, sexual orientation, or
political persuasion. The Safe Schools Coalition wishes to congratulate the youth of the Garfield Outdoor Program for valuing all of their peers and for their integrity and perseverance. And we wish to congratulate the Mountaineers for embracing these youth. Way to act on your values! Our hats are off to both groups. Peace, Beth Reis, Co-Chair Safe Schools Coalition of Washington P.S.
How about helping them out? Membership in The Mountaineers is more expensive than in Boy Scouts and, even before this move, the Outdoor Program was working hard to cover the costs of trips for lower income students, so that no one would be denied these life-changing experiences. If you want to help financially, to show your gratitude for their gutsy move, we suggest
contacting Garfield High School directly: 206-252-2270. Explain that you want to donate to the Outdoor Program to honor their moving to The Mountaineers.

The Safe Schools Coalition is a public-private partnership of 70+ organizations (government agencies, schools, community
agencies, churches, youth/student groups, gay/lesbian groups, human rights groups) and 400+ individuals working to help Washington State schools become safe places where every family can belong, where every educator can teach, and where every child can learn, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.

Safe Schools' website: http://www.safeschools-wa.org/<



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