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Cambridge-Isanti High School Says No To Boy Scouts of America

April 23, 2004

Written by Brian Westley

Cambridge-Isanti High School, a public school north of Minneapolis, voted last week to drop its Venturing program and replace it with an intermural program. The school district used to charter Venture Crew #464 through the Viking Council, which offered many extra-curricular programs (such as basketball, volleyball, broomball, water polo, dancing, pottery, and theater).

However, since Venturing is part of the Boy Scouts' discriminatory program, the school was in the indefensible position of running extracurricular programs that refused membership to atheist or gay CIHS students, in violation of Minnesota law.

The actions of the Viking Council further obfuscated the issue; instead of notifying the school that gays and atheists could not join the Venturing program, the council offered an unusual arrangement where students could either join Venturing for the usual $10/year membership fee, OR students who did not want to join could still participate in these Venturing activities - by purchasing one-time insurance coverage for $10 for each activity.

This arrangement allowed the school officials (including the school principal, who was the former Three Rivers District Chairman in the Viking Council) to think that the Venturing Crew allowed all students to join.

Repeated calls to the Viking Council and the legal department of BSA National showed that this was not the case - as always, the Boy Scouts require ALL Venture Crews, even those chartered by government agencies that cannot legally discriminate, have to exclude atheists and gays. Which meant that the school district couldn't charter a Venture Crew.

After months of pressure on this issue, school officials were eventually convinced that the Boy Scouts really would not allow gays and atheists to join a Venture Crew, even one chartered by a public school. School officials were left with no alternative but to drop the Venturing program and start a new intramural program that did NOT unlawfully exclude students.

Here is a newspaper story from last year about the program:
http://www.isanticountynews.com/2003/february/4venturing.html



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