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Another Scout Council, The Milwaukee County Council Attempts To Fool Funders, "We Won't Discriminate, But We Follow The National BSA Policy Of Discrimination"

Associated Press, August 24, 2002
Scouts try to honor gay ban, United Way policy
The Associated Press

MILWAUKEE - Boy Scout officials say they've found a way to honor their national organization's ban on homosexuals as well as the local United Way policy against funding groups that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

Officials of the Milwaukee County Council of the Boy Scouts of America said Friday that they signed the United Way of Greater Milwaukee's policy, adopted last year, after crossing out the sexual orientation phrase.

But if they learn that a member or leader is gay, they will ask that person to leave the organization.

The Boy Scouts receive more than $650,000 from the United Way, the largest single donor to the local Scouts. Most of the contribution goes to programs aimed at inner-city youths.

Leaders in the United Way and Boy Scouts said the Scouts signed the policy about two weeks ago after two years of dialogue involving the organizations and the gay community.

Michael Childers, Scout executive for the Milwaukee County Council, noted that the policy does not ask members or leaders whether they are homosexual.

If the local council otherwise learned that a member or leader was homosexual, Childers said, it would let that person go to comply with the national policy.

Asked if that wouldn't then violate the United Way policy, Childers said it wouldn't.

"It's not like we're trying to discover it or make it an issue," he said.

Neil Albrecht, executive director of the Milwaukee Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Transgender Community Center, called the comments "discouraging and disheartening."

"It should be alarming to the United Way," he said. "I would question the sincerity" of signing the United Way policy.

Gregg Shields, national spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America, said the organization was not concerned that the Milwaukee County Council had signed a non-discrimination policy regarding sexual orientation, although he said only a few of the 320 councils nationwide had done so.

He said Childers called him Friday to say the local group would be complying with the national policy.

Asked how a group could the ban that [?] and the United Way's non-discrimination rule at the same time, Shields said, "That would be for the United Way to decide."

Sue Dragisic, United Way of Greater Milwaukee president, refused to even confirm that the Boy Scouts had signed the non-discrimination policy.

Vince Martin, the chair of the United Way's board of directors, said the board was "clearly pleased" that the local Scouts council signed.

"The national policy (of the Boy Scouts) and the reaction of various groups to it has caused a lot of stress in a lot of areas," Martin said. "The United Way seeks to serve the broad community."

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