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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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United Way board approves anti-bias policy: Member agencies will have to sign statement of nondiscrimination

By Jason Nickey,
Herald-Times Staff Writer

In what could mean defunding or decertification for the local chapter of the Boy Scouts of America, the Monroe County United Way Board Tuesday unanimously approved a nondiscrimination policy that applies to all of its member agencies.

The policy covers discrimination based on race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.

Previously, the United Way had a nondiscrimination policy that governed its internal operations, but Tuesday's decision made the county's United Way the first in the state to adopt a policy that extended to member agencies.

Sparked by the controversy surrounding the Supreme Court's ruling in June to uphold the Boy Scouts of America's policy excluding homosexuals from membership, United Way Board President Barry Lessow said the time was right to adopt a clear general policy on discrimination that could be applied to all member agencies.

"We're asking all member agencies to sign the statement of nondiscrimination by Nov. 1," Lessow said, "and it's up to the Scouts to decide how to approach that."

Agencies that do not sign the nondiscrimination policy will be ineligible to receive undesignated funds (funds not
specifically allocated to a particular agency) in 2001, and will be subject to decertification.

If the Boy Scouts are decertified, the organization will still be eligible to receive funds that are specifically
designated to go to them from donors. The advantage of United Way membership is that non-member agencies must pay United Way an 8 percent processing fee to receive funds designated to them from donors.

Lessow said that some of the Boy Scout's core programs would not fit the new policy, but others, such as Exploring and Learning for Life, would be potentially eligible for undesignated funds.

"All we're trying to do is act in a way that we feel reflects the philosophy of this organization, and that's the bottom
line." said Lessow.

The nondiscrimination policy allows for "common sense" waivers that would preserve membership status for agencies that catered, for instance, to girls only, the elderly, or a specific ethnic group.

"We're asking that each agency that applies for these waivers to either submit some documentation indicating that there is some federal authority that requires them to do what they're doing, or independent research indicating why they would serve only a particular age or gender."

The local Boy Scout council, The Hoosier Trails Council, receives 20 percent of its annual funding from the 18 United Way agencies in its 18-county area, 2 percent of which comes from the United Way of Monroe County.

Randy Brown, director the Hoosier Trails Council of the Boy Scouts, could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Lessow will be discussing the new United Way policy on local radio station WGCL, 1370 AM, today between 4 and 5 p.m.

The annual United Way fund drive begins Thursday September 28.

-- -Daniel Soto Mayorga

Con cada árbol que azota el suelo en agonía, una herida se queda abierta en el bosque, sangra en sedimento hasta el mar y dice adiós a la riqueza más verde y hermosa de nuestros bosques.

"Mi libertad termina donde empieza la de los demas"




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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.

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