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Activist Groups Urge Obama to Reject Boy Scout Honor

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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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Oak Park, Illinois Beye Elementary School says, if the Pack won't write an anti-discrimination statement then they must "GO".

12/7/00, Chicago Tribune
By Jennifer Upshaw

The Boy Scouts will no longer have a troop at an Oak Park elementary school after a local parents group said the organization's ban on gays is in direct conflict with the school district's anti-discrimination policies.

Scout leaders said they decided not to seek a renewal of the charter of the Cub Scout pack at Beye School after the school's Parent-Teacher Organization demanded a change in the charter to include an
anti-discrimination pledge.

The elementary school is the only one in the Des Plaines Valley Council where the charter wasn't renewed, said the council's chief executive officer, Irene Szinavel.

All other troops and packs sponsored by the council, which represents 43 western suburban communities, sent in charter applications, according to council officials.

Initially, Beye's parents wanted to force Scout officials to amend the charter to add an anti-discrimination statement, but parents and Scout leaders chose instead not to renew the charter after PTO members agreed it was unlikely the Scouts would agree to the amended document, PTO members

Beye School PTO Co-President Meg Herman, whose 9-year-old son was a Scout before the pack was dissolved, said she had a difficult time explaining the PTO's decision not to renew the charter to her son.

"What he did understand was it is not fair for some kids to be in it, for some parents to be in it, and some not," Herman said. "That he understood."

Beye PTO members could bring the Scouts back to the school if they decide to take up the issue next year, Herman said.

"Even though the decision is over for us this year, it may be revisited if the Boy Scouts decide this [the policy] is a mistake," she said.

The other seven Oak Park School District 97 elementary schools that participate in the program sent their charters in Nov. 30 for the 2000-01 year.

Leaders also sent a letter to the Scouts' regional office in La Grange detailing their objections to the organization's anti-gay policy.

The letter from the Parent Teacher Organization's governing council is a warning to the Scouts, said Co-President Irene Clute.

If a situation arises that conflicts with the Scouts' position on gays, then packs and troops at the participating schools will follow the school district and the village's anti-discrimination policy, she said.

"If there is a conflict between policies, we will follow our policy. I think we are being clear. This is our policy, and we cannot operate in any other way," she said.

Clute said the PTO council's challenge could jeopardize the seven schools' charters if the Scouts find the terms of their renewal unacceptable.

"The Scouts can say, OK do it your way or they can say it is not OK," she said. "I think the decision is up to the Boy Scouts to say if they are willing to accept this or not. The ball is in their court."

Szinavel said local council officials received the charter renewal applications from the Oak Park schools, but added she was not aware that Beye School had chosen not to reapply. "It is something on which
thoughtful people disagree on," she said.

Scouts' honor is undermined by anti-gay policy

Brown's op-ed piece reports that the BSA's narrow-minded attitude has caused them to sever ties with several Chicago area troops because the troops would not go against the area school district's non-descrimation policy since they were sponsored by those schools. He urges parents to speak with their sons and to sever ties to the Boy Scouts of America and find alternative groups for their boys to participate in.

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