362 for Boy Scouts
12 for Fags
Scouts Policy on Gays Divisive
.c The Associated Press
By DAVID CRARY
NEW YORK (AP) - For 90 years, the Boy Scouts have helped foster togetherness
and civic pride. Over the past few months, in communities across America,
they have become a catalyst for conflict.
In June, the Supreme Court upheld the Scout's ban on gay Scout leaders.
Denouncing that policy as discriminatory, numerous school boards, city
councils, corporations and charities have halted or reduced support for the
Yet this fall there is increasing evidence of a backlash against that
backlash. Parents, business executives and conservative political groups are
speaking out against those who are retaliating against the Scouts.
``People are absolutely outraged that they would consider attacking the Boy
Scouts,'' said Janet Folger, a conservative activist in Florida with the
Center for Reclaiming America.
``This time they've gone too far, and it's going to hurt them,'' she said of
the Fort Lauderdale City Commission's decision to cancel a grant to the
Scouts. ``We're going to be looking to remedy this assault through the
Elsewhere around the country:
In Tempe, Ariz., the City Council reversed an attempt to keep city workers'
donations from going to the Scouts through the United Way. The initial
decision prompted a flurry of angry calls and e-mails, and the city's openly
gay mayor, Neil Giuliano, is now targeted by a recall campaign.
In Kentucky, numerous donors to the United Way of the Bluegrass threatened to
stop contributions if the charity cut off its funding to the Boy Scouts. The
United Way decided to continue supporting the Scouts.
In Eugene, Ore., a school district's ban on Boy Scout recruiting at schools
was lifted following vehement complaints. The superintendent and school board
chairwoman apologized for not seeking the opinion from the public before the
ban was imposed.
In Indiana, a conservative organization is raising $17,000 to help the Boy
Scouts' Hoosier Trails Council offset the loss of funding from the United Way
of Monroe County.
``People were not happy that anyone would put a political agenda ahead of
helping boys,'' said Eric Miller, executive director of Advance America.
``Maybe we here in Indiana can send a signal to other locations around the
Emotions are equally strong on the other side. This week, the Minneapolis
school board said its schools can no longer sponsor Scout troops; more than
two dozen troops with about 900 members must find new sponsors.
In Denver, a rabbi told his congregation he is protesting the ban on gays by
returning scouting awards he earned as a youth. ``I have always respected the
Scouts, but they have made a terrible mistake,'' said Steven Foster.
``There are conflicting feelings around the country on this,'' said Eric
Ferrero, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union. ``There's a lot
of gray area, a lot of people in flux, trying to figure out what this means
for their community and their children.''
Gregg Shields, spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America, said the organization
does not have updated figures on donations or membership that could measure
the effect of the Supreme Court decision. But he said recent start-of-school
recruitment drives went well, and he described overall support for the Scouts
``I'll see where a foundation somewhere might have cut funding to us, and a
donor will drop in the council office and give an amount that makes up for
the amount withdrawn,'' he said.
Shields was heartened by a 362-12 vote in Congress last
month, when lawmakers
rejected a proposal to strip the Boy Scouts of their federal charter.
``These are congresspeople going back to their districts for re-election,''
Shields said. ``They know their constituents. They know how people feel.''
He noted that presidential candidates Al Gore and George W. Bush have voiced
support for the Scouts, and that federal officials ruled the Scouts could
continue to hold jamborees on government land.
Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., has gone further, introducing what he calls the
Scouts Honor Act. It seeks to protect the Scouts against punitive measures by
any entity that receives federal funds.
``I don't think anybody expects radical change on the political level,'' said
the ACLU's Ferrero. ``The Boy Scouts have spent 90 years being thought of as
part of the fabric of America. That doesn't change in 3 1/2 months.''
On the Net:
Boy Scouts of America: http://www.bsa.scouting.org
Gay-rights viewpoint: http://www.lambdalegal.org
Copyright 2000 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP
news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise
distributed without prior written authority of The Associated Press.