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Philly Boy Scouts Policy Conflicts with Fair Practices Ordinance

Philadelphia’s Cradle of Liberty Boy Scouts Council entered talks last week with city officials, concerned that the organization’s anti-gay position violates the city’s Fair Practices ordinance that forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation. The nation’s third largest Boy Scouts Council, which serves 87,000 youths in Philadelphia, Delaware and Montgomery Counties, has had free use of city-owned property located at 22nd and Winter streets since 1928. William T. Dwyer III, executive director of the Cradle of Liberty Boy Scouts Council, told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “There’s no easy answers here. We’re getting calls from the right not to give in to the radical left. There is no middle ground. You wouldn’t believe the magnitude of homophobic bigotry out there.” Meetings are expected to continue this week.

Last May, the Cradle of Liberty council voted unanimously to add sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination policy. However, the new policy was rescinded after the national council threatened to revoke its charter. Less than one month later, Life Scout Greg Lattera was ousted from the organization after he admitted being gay at the Boy Scouts national conference.

Since the 2000 Supreme Court decision, ruling that the Boy Scouts-a private organization-was free to set its member selection criteria, even if it discriminated against homosexuals, several national donors to the Boy Scouts have reduced and/or eliminated contributions, including the Pew Charitable Trusts, regional chapters of the United Way.

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Sources:

Philadelphia Daily Inquirer 9/27/03; Associated Press 9/23/03; The Advocate 9/24/03; Feminist Daily News