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United Way Policy Maybe Costly to Scouts

Regional News
Connecticut Post
Thursday, December 14, 2000


NORWALK - The Connecticut Yankee Boy Scouts Council said Wednesday that it may not be able to pay for urban troop leaders because it will lose money it now gets from the local United Way because of a new anti-discrimination policy.

"If we can't make up the dollars, the children who could conceivably benefit the most would be hurt," said Douglas Krofina, the council's executive director.

Krofina's comments came a day after the United Way of Norwalk & Wilton decided to have its aid recipients follow the agency's own non-discrimination standards. Under it, the Boy Scouts can't refuse to hire open homosexuals, as is its national policy.

As of July 1, the beginning of a new fiscal year, organizations receiving local United Way aid will have to sign statements affirming that they will not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion, sexual orientation and other factors.

The policy follows the June U.S. Supreme Court decision stating that the Boy Scouts could bar James Dale, an avowed homosexual, from serving as a Scoutmaster.

Dale openly spoke out on gay issues, though it was not a matter he brought up in Scouting.

Still, "that wasn't the role model the Boy Scouts want," Krofina said.

But good Scout leaders can be hard to find, particularly in urban areas where many youngsters live in single parent homes, Krofina added.

To provide Scouting and its traditional hiking and camping activities, the Scouts have hired leaders who this year served about 200 youngsters in South Norwalk.

The local United Way has allocated $21,000 for the Scouts this fiscal year. Elsewhere, the organization gets volunteer leaders.

John McArdle, chairman of the local United Way, said that individual donors would still be able to designate funds for the Boy Scouts.

But Krofina noted that this year's fund-raising campaign is virtually over, making it too late for potential donors to do that.

United Way President David R. Kennedy said the group's board of directors chose to stress that the bighest value "is not to discriminate on any basis."

Kennedy said it was not clear whether any organizations other than the Boy Scouts would be affected by the new policy.

He noted that three agencies had not answered a survey question as to whether they would sign the policy agreement.

The Yankee Boy Scout Council also faces lost funds from United Way chapters in Danbury and Westport, which have adopted similar policies.

Susan Silvers, who covers Norwalk, can be reached at 330-6426.




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