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Boy Scouts’ Homophobic National Policy Still Draws Fire

Following two years of talks between area Boy Scout leaders and community gay and lesbian rights advocates, board members of the Boy Scouts Cradle of Liberty Council in Philadelphia voted unanimously last month to add sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination policy. The Cradle of Liberty Council, which serves 87,000 members in Philadelphia, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties, is the nation’s third largest Boy Scouts council, according to the Inquirer. The move represents the latest assault on the Boy Scouts’ homophobic national policy, which requires that members be “morally straight,” according to the Associated Press. In June 2000, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Boy Scouts–a private organization–was free to set its member selection criteria, even if it discriminated against homosexuals. However, David H. Lipson Jr., chair of the Cradle of Liberty Council board, supported the local change saying, “We disagree with the national stance, and we’re not comfortable with the stated national policy,” reported the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Since the Supreme Court decision, several national donors to the Boy Scouts have reduced and/or eliminated contributions, including the Pew Charitable Trusts, California United Way in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties, and most recently, the United Way of Miami-Dade. In the latter case, the South Florida scout council will lose its annual United Way grant of $480,000 effective June 30, because the national organization prohibits implementing diversity and gay sensitivity training programs for scout leaders, according to Gay.com. United Way of Miami-Dade board chair Adolfo Henriques told Gay.com, “The decision of the national Boy Scouts organization not to permit its local leaders to do so is unacceptable to an organization like United Way, which embraces diversity and the healthy development of all children and families as core values.”

Sources:

Philadelphia Inquirer 5/29/03, 5/30/03; Associated Press 5/29/03; Gay.com 5/14/03; WPLG Click10.com 5/14/03