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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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Articles Covering the United Way's Response to the BSA Supreme Court Decision

Boston Globe, August 4, 2000

Defunding discrimination

When organizations like the Boy Scouts of America and the United Way clash, it can be painful to choose sides. The Boy Scouts create opportunities for over 3 million scouts. Local United Way organizations put their money where their hearts are - investing donated dollars in communities and children. Typically the two groups get along. According to the United Way of America, in 1996 local United Ways gave $84 million to Boy Scout local councils nationwide.

But in a handful of cities, the Boy Scouts' Supreme Court-approved policy of banning gay scout leaders violates the local United Way's antidiscrimination policy. The decision this week by the United Way of Massachusetts Bay to cut funding to the Boy Scouts was a tough one to make. It was, however, the right stand against discrimination.

The United Way of Massachusetts Bay will cut $288,000 in funding to the Boy Scouts and redirect $240,000 to ''Learning for Life,'' a Boy Scout program that runs in the schools. ''Learning for Life'' will become an entity that is independent from the scouts and does not violate United Way policies.

Massachusetts Bay joins eight other United Ways - of 1,400 nationally - that have antidiscrimination policies. In some cases, such as in Santa Cruz, Calif., the Boy Scouts chose not to be United Way members. By contrast, the United Way of Southeastern New England decided last month to eliminate funding for the Boy Scouts. The United Way of Greater New Haven gives money to the Boy Scouts if donors request it, but New Haven does not give unrestricted funds to the Scouts.

Scout officials say they have had overwhelming support for their policies. Of over 300 local scout councils, only two - one in Rhode Island and one in Minnesota - have issued resolutions asking that the policy banning gay troop leaders be reconsidered.

It's time for more voices to join in. Other Boy Scout local councils that disapprove of the policy should say so, as should other United Ways.

The Boy Scouts have a constitutional right to make their own rules. Others must act on their own right to condemn discrimination.

Charity Takes Aim At Boy Scouts
By Staff At UPI
Jul 20,2000

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (UPI) - In a new policy clearly aimed at the Boy Scouts, a United Way board in Rhode Island said it would no longer fund organizations that discriminate for any reason, including sexual orientation. The policy, which is to take effect next January, could deprive the state's Narragansett Council of Boy Scouts of $200,000, according to Wednesday's
Providence Journal. The money has funded Scout Reach, a program bringing some 6,900 inner city youths into scouting.

The United Way charity is one of the first to challenge last month's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the Boy Scouts, as a private organization, could ban gay leaders.

"We concluded that it was time for the United Way to act and to be a leader on this," said William Allen, an executive vice president of the United Way of Southeastern New England, located in Providence. The organization sent letters to 65 organizations that receive $7.3 million to spell out its new policy and is asking the groups to fill out a pledge promising to adhere to the directive.

The Rhode Island Boy Scouts have been involved in a controversy since last August. At that time it fired an Eagle Scout from the staff of its Camp Yawgoog in Hopkinton when, in response to a question, the scout said he was gay. The chapter declared the dismissal had been dictated by an oath in the 1910 Scout handbook, calling on a member to pledge "to keep myself morally

The chapter eventually rehired the Eagle Scout and has since became only one of two chapters among more than 300 urging the national organization to review its ban. Minnesota is the other.

Faced with a cutoff in funds, the Rhode Island chapter claims to be in a difficult position to act precipitously because its membership practices must reflect the values of mainstream religions practiced by millions of Americans.

If it chooses not to scrap its ban on gays by January, the United Way said it is prepared to divert the $200,000 to a group serving a similar purpose, such as a settlement house in the West End of Providence.

© 2000 UPI All Rights Reserved.

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Discrimination ruling prompts United Way to pull Boy Scouts funding

By Heidi B. Perlman - Boston Globe

8/1/2000 20:44

BOSTON (AP) The United Way of Massachusetts Bay has eliminated its support of the Boy Scouts, following a Supreme Court decision allowing Scouts to bar homosexuals from leading troops.

Instead, under an agreement signed Tuesday, the United Way will now provide money to Learning for Life, an educational organization currently run by the Boy Scouts that will be spun off and turned into a separate entity.

''The Boy Scouts themselves will need to fund-raise elsewhere,'' said Pat Brandes, the chief operating officer of the United Way. ''But this will help to make sure services are still going to youth, while honoring our policy of nondiscrimination.''

United Way officials say the Boy Scouts' anti-gay policy went directly against their own, which requires agencies and organizations they support to not discriminate against anyone for any reason.

''We have always been assured by the local Scout councils that they do not discriminate,'' Brandes said. ''But the Supreme Court decision gave them the right to, and it's not acceptable for (the United Way) to be associated with them in any way.''

The decision will only affect Scouts in Massachusetts whose troops have received funding from the Massachusetts office of the United Way. Other United Way offices around the country will make their own decisions on whether to continue funding of the Boy Scouts.

Last year, the United Way gave five local Boy Scout councils about $288,000, or nearly 5 percent of the councils' annual operating budgets.

Under the new arrangement, the United Way will give Learning for Life up to $240,000 over the next year, once it is incorporated into a separate organization. Learning for Life was started by the local Boy Scouts in 1983.

The program provides curriculum support, lesson plans and teacher training, and is aimed at improving student confidence, motivation and self-esteem. The program currently serves about 10,000 students from Greater Boston.

Learning for Life will have its own board of directors, budget and staff. Its new charter will include a nondiscrimination policy.

''This divorces those programs that are perceived to be discriminatory from those that are clearly not,'' said Richard DeWolfe, president of the Boston Minuteman Council, which oversees Boston-area Boy Scout troops. ''This will allow the United Way to continue to support positive youth programs without compromising its policies or standards.''

Weymouth Troop 19 Leader Jerry Rudolph, who says he agrees with the anti-gay policy, called the United Way's decision to pull their funding a disappointment.

''It's too bad,'' he said. ''Scouting is still a worthwhile organization to support.




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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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