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New York Council of the BSA, Scout Executive Daniel R. Gasparo says, "Our Programs Do Not Discriminate Based on Sexual Orientation

CNN, December 2, 2000

Scout leader says New York chapter not anti-gay

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The head of the New York chapter of Boy Scouts of America says his group should not be banned from New York City's public schools for the anti-gay stand of its national leadership.

"Our programs do not discriminate based on sexual orientation," wrote Scout Executive Daniel R. Gasparo in a December 1 letter to New York City Schools Chancellor Harold Levy.

He added, "We have made some progress with our national office in broadening their (anti-gay) views."

The letter was sent in response to the New York City's public schools decision on Friday to bar the Boy Scouts organization because of its anti-gay policies.

Levy announced that city schools and educators can no longer sponsor troops or recruit Boy Scouts during school hours on school property. Scouts also will be barred from all facilities except those mandated by federal law.

In addition, Levy said the schools will not renew an $800,000 contract the Scouts have to provide services to its 2 million students.

Scout leader says children will suffer.

In his letter, Gasparo expressed concern that children would suffer as a result of the ban, which would deny them access to "our comprehensive youth development programs."

The leadership of the Boy Scouts of America maintains that the organization, being private, has the right to establish its own standards of membership "if it is to continue to instill the values of the Scout oath and law in boys." The organization has said "an avowed homosexual is not a role model for the values espoused in the Scout oath and law."

And last June, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Scouts could legally exclude gays and lesbians.

Since the Supreme Court ruling, Gasparo wrote, he has been carrying out a "dialogue" with the national office about the Scouts' anti-gay policy.

Officials applaud

Despite Gasparo's letter, two openly gay elected officials and a handful of school board members and gay-rights activists met in lower Manhattan on Saturday to applauded Levy's decision.

"I am here to express gratitude for the very important step taken by Chancellor Levy in saying he will sever relationships with the Boy Scouts of America because they discriminate against gay people," said New York State Senator Tom Duane.

Christine Quinn, a city council member said, "This sends a clear message that all students in New York City are to be treated fairly and that the New York City public school system does not support discrimination of any kind."

The New York public school system -- the nation's largest -- is the latest institution to take action against the Scouts since the Supreme Court's decision.

Chicago, Illinois; San Francisco, California; San Jose, California; and the state of Minneapolis, all have ended their sponsorship of Boy Scout troops. They also prohibit the Boy Scouts from recruiting new members in the public schools.

The Boy Scouts of America, founded in 1910 and chartered by Congress in 1916, has 3.2 million members.

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