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Religious Tolerance logo

Boy Scouts of America:

News items in the media, year 2000

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Year 2000 reactions to the U.S. Supreme court's decision:

bullet2000-JUL (approx): Illinois: Cub scout packs expelled from BSA: According to an article in People Magazine, a group of six Cub Scout packs were sponsored by Parent Teacher Organizations in Oak Park, IL, a suburb of Chicago. The latter have a strict non-discrimination policy. When the packs applied to the BSA for routine re-certification they included a letter stating that they would not exclude gays. The BSA expelled the packs. Of the 150 former cub scout members, half decided to join new groups who have promised to discriminate against gays. Some of the rest have joined the Camp Fire Boys and Girls, an agency that accepts members and leaders of all sexual orientations. A parent, former scout, and leader Ken Brinkman asked "What are we trying to teach boys in Scouts? how to tie a knot or how to discriminate." 1
bullet2000-JUL-7: USA: The Unitarian Universalist Association called for citizens to:
bullet"support the efforts of "Scouting for All" 2
bulletask local Scout troops to adopt anti-discrimination policies that include religious belief, sexual orientation, and gender identity;
bulletprovide the necessary tools to empower youth to take action on these issues; and
bulletspeak out about these issues in our communities." 3
bullet2000-JUL-10: USA: American Atheists have called on President Clinton to resign as honorary head of the BSA. They feel that it would deliver a powerful message against discrimination on the basis of religious belief and sexual orientation.
bullet2000-JUL-14: USA: The Episcopal Church approved a resolution at their 73rd General Convention that encourages the Boy Scouts of America to allow adult leaders to serve regardless of their sexual orientation.
bullet2000-JUL-20: Congress: Representative Lynn Woolsey, (D-CA) suggested that Congress revoke the 84 year old federal charter of the BSA. She said: "We're not saying they're bad. We're saying intolerance is bad, and I don't see any reason why the federal government should be supporting it." Woolsey is a former member of the Girl Scouts, and her son is a former Boy Scout. Boy Scouts spokesman Gregg Shields said: "We're honored to have such a charter, but we also ask other Americans to recognize our rights to freedom of association as described by the Constitution and upheld by the Supreme Court."
bullet2000-JUL-13: USA: President Clinton: Lynn Woolsey, (D-CA) and ten other representatives wrote a letter to the President which said, in part, "In order to disavow this policy of intolerance, as well as clarify any misconception of Presidential approval, we urge you, the leader of our nation, to resign as the honorary head of the BSA."
bullet2000-JUL-20: USA: United Way, etc: According to AANEWS:
bulletChapters of the United Way, a national group which coordinates planned giving and disburses grants, are ending their contributions to the BSA.
bulletThe Providence, R.I. United Way chapter has decided to discontinue funding any of its 65 agencies which discriminates "for any reason, including sexual orientation." The cutoff is set to the end of 2000.
bulletThe Narragansett, N.J. Council of the BSA has reversed its discriminatory policy, which led to the firing of Eagle Scout and assistant scoutmaster James Dale in 1990. The Providence Journal-Bulletin newspaper stated: "The Narragansett Council has since joined a Minnesota council by passing a resolution urging the national parent organization to reconsider the ban.
bulletNationally, United Way channels over $83 million a year to various BSA troops and councils.  Chapters of the UW in San Francisco, Santa Clara and Santa, Calif.; New Haven, CT.; Somerset County, N.J.; Santa Fe, N.M.; and Portland, Me.  all have anti-discrimination by laws in their respective charters which prohibit funding of groups which discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.
bulletThere are reports that Eagle Scouts are returning their badges to the BSA headquarters in Texas to protest the organization's discriminatory policies. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Tuesday that "several hundred" Eagle Scouts have returned badges and other gear, and written letters of protest as well.  The move was denounced by the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council.  Rob Regier, a policy analyst for FRC told reporters, "I think it's sad that they would do this.  They're brought into the false notion that this is a new civil rights movement." 4
bullet2000-AUG-1: USA: Rep. Lynn Woolsey, (D-CA) has introduced a bill called "Scouting for All Act." According to Family News in Focus, the bill criticizes the BSA for its lack of support for diversity and tolerance, and would revoke the federal charter granted to the BSA in 1916. "The biggest benefit to the Scouts from the charter is the use of National Guard tents, camping equipment and military bases for their annual Boy Scout Jamboree." The bill has been sent to the House Judiciary Committee for review. 5
bullet2000-NOV-28: USA: A survey released by "Who's Who Among American High School Students" found that most top high school students believe that gays and lesbians should be allowed to be Boy Scout leaders, Girl Guide leaders, teachers and sport coaches. However, 39% admitted that they still had some prejudice against homosexuals.
bullet2000-DEC-6: USA: Many large cities in the U.S. have removed support, or had started the process of removing support, from the Boy Scouts because of their anti-gay policies. This includes Ft. Lauderdale, Los Angeles, New York. A ordinance was unanimously approved by the Los Angeles City Council which will bar the police from engaging in any Scouting programs and prohibit the Scouts from free meeting rooms at city parks. 6 By the end of OCT, more than 24 United Way chapters had withdrawn financial support.

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  1. Bill Hewitt, et al., "Unhappy Trails," People Magazine, 2001-JUL-2, pages 156 to 159.
  2. "Scouting for All" has a web site at: http://www.scoutingforall.org/ 
  3. CyberNewsletter of the UUA Washington Office, issued 2000-JUL-7
  4. AANEWS, 2000-JUL-20
  5. Martha Kleder, "Lawmakers target Scouts' charter," at: http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif/news/A0012414.html 
  6. Lara McGovern, "L.A. city council ousts Boy Scouts," at: http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif/news/A0013962.html 

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Copyright © 2000 to 2002 incl., and 2004 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. 
Latest updated: 2004-JUL-12
Author: B.A. Robinson

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