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Activist Groups Urge Obama to Reject Boy Scout Honor

From Fox News:

Activist groups, including Scouting for All, urge President Obama not to accept the honorary Presidency of the Boy Scouts of America until they stop discriminating.

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Scout Council Exec Comes Out

PlanetOut News Staff

Wednesday, October 18, 2000 / 06:13 AM

The director of a California BSA council stopped the show at a public meeting when he said that, despite the Boy Scouts's ban on gays, he couldn't tell a lie.

As Santa Barbara County, California Supervisors heard testimony October 17 as to whether they should end the County's relationship with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) because of BSA's policy excluding gays, no less than the executive director of their regional council of BSA announced that he is a gay man. Los Padres Council of BSA head Leonard Lanzi told the Supervisors and an audience that packed the hearing room, "I am a private person and I am gay. I uphold the Boy Scouts' policies. I would not work for the Boy Scouts if I did not know that they save lives. I made my statement today because, as a Scout, I have to be credible. I could not speak up without some people saying I was hypocritical." The audience erupted in enthusiastic applause.

Lanzi has played a leading role in Scouting in the area for fourteen years without ever having made any such public statement before; as yet there has been no word from Lanzi's supervisors or from BSA headquarters as to whether Lanzi will be fired for doing so.

Supervisors heard about four hours of testimony from some three dozen people as they wrestle with a County Human Rights Commission recommendation to end relationships with groups that discriminate. In Santa Barbara County, this comes down to two specific issues with the Scouts, according to the Santa Barbara News Press. One is United Way contributions collected from County employees in an annual workplace charity drive, which did not seem problematic to the Board since donors have the option of directing their gifts away from the Scouts.

The other, more challenging issue is use of the so-called "Scout House" in Montecito. Although
primarily used by Tres Condados Girl Scouts -- and the Girl Scouts of America have never had a discriminatory policy -- their agreement with the County includes use by Boy Scout Troop 33 as well. Neither group pays rent but both must maintain the facility, and Scouts raised some $150,000 for renovations which are now in progress. As it happens, a new 25-year lease agreement was signed one day before the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its June ruling affirming BSA's right as a private organization to exclude gays, irrespective of anti-discrimination laws; that lease will be revised. But while the County Board firmly opposes anti-gay discrimination, it's taking time to find a way to support its local Scouts as well, including working with Troop 33 to consider how the group might adopt a non-discrimination policy without losing its BSA affiliation. The Board will not be voting on its own policy until December or January.

BSA's exclusionary policy has also impacted schools in the cities of Santa Barbara and Goleta. Last week Santa Barbara school trustees added a second month to a temporary ban on distributing flyers in schools for any outside groups until a newly established committee can develop a policy. Goleta schools had previously stopped distributing BSA literature but are considering a general ban, which some of the more than fifty non-profit youth groups they've served say could be devastating. Santa Barbara schools are also reconsidering their policies allowing a wide range of groups including BSA to use school facilities after hours free of charge.




Scouting For All is not an alternative scouting program.
We are an education and advocacy organization reaching out to gay and nontheist youth and adults in our effort to get the Boy Scouts of America to rescind its exlusionary policy.

Any communications sent to Scouting for All or any Scouting for All representative may be published on the Scouting for All web site or in Scouting for All materials unless the communication specifically requests that it not be published.

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