In the past few years, a few BSA Councils have had the gall to publicly state that they do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. The first time was in July 2001, when a Boston based council adopted a "nondiscrimination policy."
When an openly gay man attempted to register as a merit badge counselor in the Boston council, he was rejected, solely on the basis of his sexual orientation. So much for nondiscrimination!
Now the Central New Jersey Council has publicly agreed to abide by the nondiscrimination policy of the United Way of Central New Jersey. In their nondiscrimination policy, agencies receiving funds are prohibited from denying the services it offers to persons on the basis of sexual orientation. In order to obtain $80,000 this year, the Council Scout Executive signed the UW Chapter's nondiscrimination
As with the Boston council, BSA National insists on discriminating against youth and adults on the basis of sexual orientation. The Council Scout Executive is attempting to get funding for his council from the UW chapter anyway he can, If that means falsely signing a pledge not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, so be it.
United Way to Continue Aid to Central Jersey Scouts
New York Times, August 31, 2001
By MARIA NEWMAN
The United Way of Central Jersey has decided to continue financial support for a local Boy Scout council after the scouting group signed a letter agreeing not to discriminate against homosexuals, United Way officials said yesterday.
The letter, which came after several contentious meetings of United Way board members in the spring, seems to run counter to the Boy Scouts of America's national policy excluding gays, a policy
that was upheld by the Supreme Court last year.
"They assured us that they do not on a local level discriminate in any way," said Vito Toto, director of marketing and communications for the United Way office in Milltown, NJ. "We have never had a problem with them, even though their national board adheres to that policy."
Officials of the United Way's national office, who say that their
organization contributes more than $83 million a year to national Boy Scout councils, said this was not the first local United Way to make such an agreement with the Scouts.
And more importantly, say lawyers with Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund -- which argued the case of James Dale, an Eagle Scout assistant scoutmaster whose troop expelled him after learning that he was gay -- the local scouts are joining a growing
number of councils that have quietly said they do not support discriminating against gays.
"It's wonderful, and it's good for the public to hear that these Boy Scouts aren't going along with the national policy," said Peg Byron, a spokeswoman for Lambda Legal Defense in New York. "But what does it mean? We're hoping that these different councils can put pressure on the national organization to make a change. But it
seems like that's not how things work in the Boy Scouts."
Ron Green, executive director of the Boy Scouts' Central New Jersey Council, did not return repeated messages left yesterday at the council's offices in Monmouth Junction, near New Brunswick, to discuss the agreement with the United Way. Gregg Shields, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America, which is based in Irving, Tex., also did not return repeated phone calls.
The Central New Jersey United Way has for years been offering financial support to the Scouts' Central Jersey Council, Mr. Toto said. But in the spring, several of the group's 55 board members questioned whether they should give money to the Scouts in light of the Supreme Court ruling in June 2000, he said.
"Some of our board members became much more aware of the
situation and they raised it," Mr. Toto said, describing long debates at several meetings over whether to end sponsorship of the group. Finally, two of the board's vice presidents and the executive director decided to meet with Mr. Green of the Boy Scouts, and he agreed to sign a letter saying that the council would abide by the United Way's comprehensive anti-discrimination policy. United Way officials took the letter back to their board, and the vote favored
continuing financial support, Mr. Toto said.
"It was not a unanimous vote, to be perfectly honest, but it was a majority in favor of it," he said.
The Central Jersey council, which represents 400 troops and packs in parts of Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset and Warren Counties, will receive $81,350 for the fiscal year that began July 1, the same amount it received last year, Mr. Toto said.
Since the Supreme Court decision, several organizations across the country, private as well as public, have denounced the Scouts' policy and ended their support. A few local Boy Scout councils and troops have publicly disagreed with the policy, including Greater New York Councils, Boy Scouts of America, which in February denounced the national policy as "repugnant" and "stupid."
At a national Boy Scout leadership meeting last month, the antigay policy was the subject of much discussion, with representatives of nine of the largest metropolitan councils in the country requesting the right to establish their own membership policies, but so far nothing has come of it.
A few local troops, like the one in Central New Jersey, are quietly agreeing to adopt nondiscrimination policies to appease
their sponsors, United Way officials said.
But others have suffered for it. In Oak Park, Ill., after seven Cub Scout troops decided that they would accept gays as leaders, the national headquarters forced them to disband in January.
Ms. Byron, of the Lambda legal defense group, said that while she believed it would be a long time before the national group changed its views on gays, she was encouraged that another local
group had rejected the national policy.
"The change is really going to come from the heartland, from families and groups and Boy Scouts themselves who are pushing for the change," she said.
Ban on gays waived - Local Scout unit agrees to United Way funding policy
Home News Tribune, August 30, 2001
123 How Lane, East Brunswick, NJ, 08903
By Frances Carroll, Staff Writer
The Boy Scout council covering Middlesex County and Franklin
Township in Somerset County has agreed to abide by a United Way of Central Jersey policy prohibiting discrimination against gays and will continue to receive more than $80,000 in funding from the charity.
The executive director of the Boy Scouts' Central New Jersey Council, Ron Green, said he believes his signature on the United Way's comprehensive anti-discrimination policy in no way conflicts with the national Scout's position on homosexuals.
Another local director, Dennis Kohl of the Boy Scouts' Patriots' Path Council -- which covers parts of Middlesex, Somerset, Union, Morris and Sussex counties -- disagrees.
Asked if he thinks local Boy Scout councils have the discretion to sign documents agreeing not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, Kohl said: "There is no choice. There is a national
position. We (councils) have a national membership agreement that we all belong to."
The "national position" was the subject of last year's US. Supreme Court decision that found the Boy Scouts of America can ban gays from serving as Scout leaders.
In a case that centered on James Dale, a former scoutmaster and Eagle Scout from Monmouth County expelled in 1990 after it
was learned he was gay, the Scouts successfully argued that it is a private institution entitled to choose its leaders based on its own values, and homosexuality is inconsistent with those values.
Gregg Shields, spokesman for the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America, did not return phone calls yesterday.
Green said Kohl apparently has a different interpretation of the national council's policy.
"I wouldn't sign (the United Way policy) unless I was comfortable it represented the views of the Central New Jersey Council and it was compatible with the Boy Scouts of America," he said. "We would not sign anything that deviates from the national program."
The Boy Scouts do not discriminate against gays, said Green, who stressed as much in a notice sent to local parents in the spring
. To his knowledge, the Scouts have never turned away a child because of his or her sexual orientation, and the organization does not ask leaders about their sexual preferences, he said.
Problems with gay leaders arise only when a leader attempts to make a political statement that serves as a distraction, he said.
"When leaders try, intentionally or unintentionally, to make themselves the issue, they are not following the program. We ask
our leaders to follow the program," said Green. "It's only an issue when a leader makes it an issue. Basically, we don't want leaders bringing political agendas and diverting from the mission."
The Boy Scouts' Central New Jersey Council, like other organizations funded by the United Way of Central Jersey, was required to agree to abide by the anti-discrimination policy to
continue funding, said Gloria Aftanski, the charity's president and chief professional officer.
Green in June agreed to that policy, and so the council will receive $81,350 for the fiscal year that began July 1, the same amount as last year, said Aftanski.
The Central New Jersey Council covers all of Middlesex County except South Plainfield, all of Mercer, Hunterdon and Warren
counties and Franklin and Montgomery in Somerset County. It oversees 15,600 youth members and more than 400 volunteer leaders in more than 300 local packs and troops, said Green.
The council's annual budget is $1.5 million, about $165,000 -- or 11 percent -- of which, comes from United Ways in the areas it serves, he said.
The council receives funding from the United Way of Central
Jersey, the United Way of Greater Mercer County, the United Way of Hunterdon County and the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, all of which have required the council to sign nondiscrimination policies specifically including sexual orientation, said Green.
Kohl said the Patriots' Path Council receives about $50,000 per year from local United Ways in Union County, whose anti-discrimination policies make no specific mention of sexual orientation.
Elisse Glennon, chief professional officer of the United Way of Union and Hunterdon counties, said the Hunterdon County branch this year amended its policy to include sexual orientation because of the Boy Scouts, while the Union County branch and its six local offshoots are considering doing the same.
The United Way of Somerset County last year decided to stop funding Patriots' Path based on the Scout's prohibition against gay
troop leaders, which conflicts with its own policy.
Philip Jones, spokesman for the national United Way of America in Virginia, said boards of the 1,400 local chapters throughout the country are responsible for setting their own policies.
Most local United Way chapters have a nondiscrimination policy, which organizations receiving funding must follow, but not all of those policies specifically mention sexual orientation.
"Many of those policies are being revisited in light of (the Boy Scouts)," Jones said.