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Miami agency cuts funding for Boy Scouts

Ahmar Mustikhan, Gay.com / PlanetOut.com Network

Wednesday, May 14, 2003 / 04:45 PM

SUMMARY: The United Way in Miami cut its $480,000 annual grant to the Boy Scouts, who reneged on a plan to give gay sensitivity training to scout leaders.

The United Way of Miami-Dade stopped its almost half-million-dollar annual funding for scouting programs because the local Boy Scouts of America backpedaled on a diversity training agreement to help gay and questioning youths.

The United Way said its board voted unanimously for stopping its annual funding grant of $480,000 after the South Florida scout council said the national office has prohibited it from implementing the "diversity training" program agreed upon two years back.

Adolfo Henriques, board chair, United Way of Miami-Dade, said, "We simply asked, and the Boy Scouts agreed, to provide its leaders with the knowledge and training so that in the event a young boy identifies himself as gay, the scout leaders could help that young boy in a sensitive and caring way."

Henriques added, "The decision of the national Boy Scouts organization not to permit its local leaders to do so is unacceptable to an organization like United Way, which embraces diversity and the healthy development of all children and families as core values."

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2000 upheld the Boy Scouts of America's right to set its own membership standards, and thereby exclude homosexuals as scouts or scout leaders.

Harve A. Mogul, president and CEO, United Way of Miami-Dade, said, "We respect the Boy Scouts' First Amendment right to set its own membership standards. At the same time, because the Boy Scouts are operating in a diverse community, the organization has a responsibility to understand the effect its policy potentially could have on boys who don't meet its membership standards and to prepare its adult leaders to speak to those children in the most helpful ways."

The United Way has said it would consider reviving the grant if the Boy Scouts implements the diversity training agreement.

Meanwhile, in Cook County, Ill., the Boy Scouts faced another square-off, as Commissioner Mike Quigley has objected to granting a forest preserve to the Boy Scouts on a permit basis.

Quigley said the Boy Scouts' refusal to allow gays to serve as scout leaders clashed with the county's human rights ordinance, thus forbidding the county to do business with them. The county commissioners postponed Tuesday's committee meeting to try to broker a compromise.



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