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Boy Scouts of America:

News items in the media, year 2001

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Year 2001 reactions to the U.S. Supreme court's decision:

bullet2001-JAN-11: USA: Reform Jewish leaders have suggested that parents remove their children from the Boy Scouts, and that synagogues end their sponsorship of Scout troops, because of the group's discrimination against gays. 
bullet2001-FEB-4: Denver, CO:  Washington Park Church terminated its 60-year association with the BSA by holding a "service of separation" for the Scouts and the congregation. In 2000-OCT, Temple Emanuel synagogue  decided to ban Scout meetings from its premises. 1 
bullet2001-MAY: USA: Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) has introduced an amendment to S. 1, the education bill. It is called the "Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act." It would withdraw Department of Education funding to government entities that do not offer the BSA the use of public facilities on an equal basis with other groups. Some school boards and local governments have refused to give the BSA access to meeting rooms because the BSA discriminate against homosexuals and non-theists.
bullet2001-JUN-5:  USA: Hampshire Community United Way, MA:  The United Way's board of directors decided to terminate funding for the Great Trails Council, an organization which links together 120 Boy Scout troops and Cub Scout packs in Hampshire, Franklin and Berkshire counties in Massachusetts. Their reason was the national organization's ban on gay leaders. The Council's annual budget of $500,000 will be reduced by $16,000. Carolyn Jacobs, chairperson of the local United Way said: "Our conclusion was that the Boy Scouts were not able to sign our nondiscrimination policy. They could not go against the national organization."
bullet2001-JUN-11:  USA: Presbyterian Church (USA) The denomination is holding its annual General Assembly in mid-June. According to PCUSA News, The Assembly Committee on Christian Education and Publishing has received two resolutions related to the BSA:
bulletResolution 01-11 encourages churches and other judicatories to increase support for scouting worldwide.
bulletResolution 01-15, urges congregations to confer with Boy Scout troops that use church facilities to discover if the leadership expels gay people and urge them not to do so. It also urges congregations to not allow their facilities to be used by organizations that discriminate.

The Committee had been expected to reject one resolution and forward the other to the General Assembly. Instead, the Committee has recommended that the General Assembly refer both resolutions to the division of the General Assembly  that is already in dialogue with the Boys Scouts of America. 2

bullet2001-JUN:  USA: Senate amendment about the BSA passes: By a close 52 to 48 vote, the Senate added an amendment to the Education Bill that was introduced by Jesse Helms (R-NC). It is directed at public school districts which restrict the usage of their facilities by sexist, racist or homophobic groups from the community. Some such districts have withdrawn permission for the BSA to use their facilities. The amendment would terminate federal funding to any school district that denies the use of their facilities because of the BSA's policy on homosexuals in the organization. Jesse Helms said that the amendment was intended to fight "the organized lesbians and homosexuals in this country of ours." Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) said that the amendment would necessitate that school districts make a difficult decision: "They could either disregard their own conscience or they could follow their conscience and lose millions of dollars that their schools and their children need. We believe in principled compromise, but we cannot compromise on the fundamental issues of civil rights."

The Boxer amendment also passed. It would require public schools to allow outside groups access to their facilities, regardless of their position on sexual orientation.
bullet2001-JUN-19: USA: PBS aired special on BSA: The Public Broadcasting Service aired a program "Scout's Honor" which dealt with the controversy over the BSA and the exclusion of gays. It described the efforts of Steven Cozza, a heterosexual boy scout who founded Scouting for All at the age of 12. Steve imagines a scouting organization that accepts scouts of all religions and sexual orientations. Unfortunately, the program coverage was lopsided, because the BSA refused to be interviewed for the program.  The program's producer, Tom Shepard, said that Scoutís Honor "afforded a number of opportunities to explore the shape of anti-gay bigotry in America and the struggle to expunge it."
bullet2001-JUN-25: USA: Focus on the Family update: "Focus" is a Fundamentalist Christian organization devoted to social action. They generally oppose equal rights and protection for homosexuals. Founder Dr. James Dobson updated listeners to his weekday program with information about the BSA. He reported that many of the United Way agencies have terminated relationships with the BSA. In the past, this has been the source of much of their funding. He recommended that listeners contact the BSA headquarters, local Scout council, local United Way office, and the national United Way office, supporting the United Way. He suggested that his listeners threaten to boycott their local United Way if they refuse to fund the BSA.
bullet2001-JUN-28: USA: American Medical Association condemns BSA indirectly: The AMA has adopted a new policy advisory. It says that if youth organizations would drop policies excluding gays that it would help "lower the risk of suicide in the adolescent homosexual population." This appears to be a reference to the BSA; it is is the only youth organization that has been recently featured extensively in the media because of its exclusionary policies towards gay scouts and scout leaders. An AMA spokesperson said that there was no other group mentioned during internal deliberations over the advisory. Response from Fundamentalist Christian groups was immediate:
bulletGregg Shields, national spokesman for the Boy Scouts, said: "We respect the AMA and its members'...right to hold an opinion. We simply ask them to respect our right to hold beliefs and values that are different from theirs."
bulletPeter LaBarbera, spokesperson for the Culture and Family Institute, said: "What I would like to see is the AMA to come out with a booklet on the many homosexual related health risks, especially for boys and men."
bulletMike Haley, spokesperson for Focus on the Family said that many sexually confused teens commit suicide because they have no hope that they can change. "The students that I talk to deal with suicidal feelings due to the fact that they don't believe that change is possible. They're being told by society and by the gay movement that homosexuality is genetic." 3
bullet2001-JUL-2: USA: Eagle Scouts return badges: According to an article in People Magazine with this date, over 70 Eagle Scouts have returned their badges in protest over the ban over gays. Eagle Scouting is a level that is only reached by about 3% of scouts.
bullet2001-AUG-1: MA: Boston area council to allow gay leaders: The Massachusetts Minuteman Council is one of the largest BSA councils in the state, involving 18,000 scouts and 330 troops. They will allow gay scoutmasters under a new "don't ask, don't tell" policy.  Brock Bigsby, Scout executive said, in reference to interviews of prospective scoutmasters: "Discussions about sexual orientation do not have a place in Scouts. The Scouts will not inquire into a person's sexual history, and that person will not expose their sexual orientation one way or the other." Eric Ferrero of the ACLU's Lesbian and Gay Rights Project said: "To have a policy that takes sexual orientation off the table entirely instead of making homosexuality seem like a dirty little secret is encouraging and significant. And it sounds like what the group has done is going to be difficult for the National Boy Scouts to oppose." CovenantNews.com chose the heading "Open Season on Scouts" for this news item.
bullet2001-AUG-20: USA: Rumors of BSA becoming more inclusive: One rumor, repeated by Mark Cowan of Focus on the Family, is that the BSA has decided to not seek public funding. BSA spokesperson Gregg Shields confirmed this policy, saying that: "We didn't want it because there's too many strings attached." In a remarkable development, the BSA has also agreed to listen to the concerns of Safeguarding America's Values for Everyone (SAVE), -- a gay positive organization. Shields explained: "What we agreed to do is we agreed to listen (to SAVE's concerns). It's in the Scout Law that a Scout is respectful. We are a part of (the) community with many people who don't share our opinions and our values, so we did agree to listen."
bullet2001-SEP-29: OH: Cleveland United Way stops funding BSA: The Cleveland Chapter of the United Way decided to stop funding the BSA. They will redirect $268,000 to Learning for Life, a program that is affiliated with the BSA but which does not prohibit gay men from being leaders. "Nearly 50 United Ways across the country and a dozen corporations have quit giving money to Boy Scouts of America since the U.S. Supreme Court last year upheld the Scouts' right to reject homosexual leaders."

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  1. "Boy Scouts barred by Denver church," at: http://www.mcjonline.com/news/01a/20010212d.shtml 
  2. Alexa Smith, "Recommendation pushes resolutions on Scouting back to the General Assembly Council," PCUSA News, 2001-JUN-11
  3. Stuart Shepard, "AMA goes after Boy Scouts," Focus on the Family, http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif/news/

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Copyright © 2001 & 2002 incl., and 2004 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. 
Latest updated: 2004-JUL-12
Author: B.A. Robinson

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