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East Hampton, Long Island, New York, Accepts Scout Units Anti-discrimination Statements and Rejects the BSA Policy of Discrimination


Newsday, November 23, 2000

http://www.newsday.com/coverage/current/news/thursday/nd9589.htm

Board Rejects Ban on Scouts
by Bill Bleyer, Staff Writer

Saying it was constrained by the Constitution and state law, the East Hampton school board Wednesday night rejected a call for a ban on the use of school facilities by the Boy Scouts, but condemned the national scout organization's stance on gays.

The school board was responding to a call for action by the town's Anti-Bias Task Force, which in turn was reacting to a June decision by the Supreme Court upholding the scouts' ouster of a New Jersey scoutmaster after he publicly acknowledged being gay.

While the board did condemn the national Scout organization's policy, it did praise the local troops' commitment not to discriminate against anyone.

"The national leadership of the Boy Scouts of America has advocated a membership policy that is in direct conflict with the principles of acceptance and diversity which are Board of Education priorities...," the board resolution stated. "We applaud the East Hampton...Boy Scouts...for expressing their opposition to discrimination in any form. The Board of Education does not posses the right to exclude any individual or group based solely on their views or policies, whether we agree with them or not." The only suggested addition to the resolution that the school district would not provide any special access or sponsorship to Scout Troops from Laura Grossman, a board member, was turned down. Another member Michael Tracey said "we don't grant special access or privilege to anybody." Several other speakers urged the board to take a stronger position. "It's the wrong message to send," said resident Michael Davidson, a former Cub Scout.

"I think you have to ban them from the schools." "We do not discriminate and will not discriminate," local Cub Scout leader Kevin Fitzgerald reassured the board.

Scout leader Jim Gherardi said it was "unfair and ineffectual" to put the burden on local troops to try to change national scout policy. "If you want change, the pressure has to be brought to bear on the national organization."

School Board President Debbie Mansir told the audience that "under state law, if we exclude the Boy Scouts, we have to exclude every other group. We cannot make moral judgments on groups."



Newsday, December 21, 2000
235 Pinelawn, Melville, NY, 11747-4250
(Fax: 516-843-2986 )


Board Strengthens Scout Resolution
by Bill Bleyer, Staff Writer

The East Hampton school board, which last month became the first Long Island board to pass a resolution condemning the Boy Scouts' policy on gays, has now strengthened its original statement.

The board Tuesday night voted to add a phrase to its resolution stating it would not sponsor scout troops or give them special access to school property.

Last month, the board said it could not legally ban scouts from using school facilities as requested by the town's Anti-Bias Task Force, which advises the town on discrimination issues. But the board did condemn the national scout organization's stance on gays. In June, the Supreme Court upheld the scouts' ouster of a New Jersey scoutmaster after he acknowledged being gay.

"The national leadership of the Boy Scouts of America has advocated a membership policy that is in direct conflict with the principles of acceptance and diversity which are Board of Education priorities...," the original board resolution stated. "We applaud the East Hampton ... Boy Scouts ... for expressing their opposition to discrimination in any form." In various statements, local troops have said they don't discriminate against anyone.

At the time, the board rejected a suggestion by member Laura Grossman to add the phrase about special access or sponsorship for Scout troops. Several speakers urged the board to include the language, already adopted by school districts containing more than 2,500 schools around the country, to send a message to the Boy Scouts of America national leaders. But the phrase was rejected after one member pointed out that the district doesn't grant special access to anybody.

The board Tuesday added a phrase that said it would ban "any sponsorship to groups who discriminate on any basis." Supt. Jan Furman said the objection to the phrase evaporated after the board got a clarification on what sponsorship meant legally: financial support.

"The district will not do that for anybody," she said.

"We think it is a very positive step," said Marilyn Fitterman, who stepped down this month as chairwoman of the Anti-Bias Task Force but remains on it as a member. Francis Bock, a scout master of one of the East Hampton troops, commented, "I don't have a problem with that. We still have equal
access so it doesn't really affect us at all." Fitterman said the task force is drafting a new commendation to the town board after the town determined it could not ban the scouts from town facilities. The new recommendation will be for a statement similar to the one issued by the school board, she said.

 

 

 

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