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United Way, Boy Scouts and Discrimination Against Gays

TOWARD COMMUNITY: UNITY IN DIVERSITY 
United Way & the Boy Scouts

 

From Action Wisconsin April 12, 2001
UNITED WAY OF BROWN COUNTY ADDS SEXUAL ORIENTATION TO NONDISCRIMINATION POLICY
Funded agencies have until December 2002 to "resolve noncompliance issues"

On April 11, 2000 The United Way of Brown County (UWBC) announced the adoption of a new nondiscrimination policy adopted by its Board of Directors. The policy affirms the agency's commitment to include at every level of its work all segments of the community without regard to race, religion, sex, economic status, culture, heritage, disability, national origin or sexual orientation.

The former United Way of Brown County fund distribution policy did include a nondiscrimination statement, but it did not specifically include the words "sexual orientation." The Board believes the policy was written in the spirit of inclusiveness and was meant to preclude any discrimination. Furthermore, United Way of Brown County bylaws specifically prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and amendments to the fund distribution policies were meant to bring all policies into alignment.

All United Way members are being notified of the change. Agencies not in compliance will meet with the United Way to begin discussions on proposed actions for resolution. All agencies now receiving United Way dollars will continue to be funded through the current funding cycle ending in December 2002.

In the United Way's press release Board President Bill Nabak said that "the agency recognizes this is a difficult issue for many people in our community."

 

NEWS RELEASE 
February 5, 2001 
Contact: Kathy J. Fredericks, (920) 751-8497

Toward Community supports United Way decision 
A local organization supportive of diversity initiatives in the Fox Valley is encouraging people to rally behind United Way Fox Cities' recent decision to require agencies it funds to serve everyone in the community.

Toward Community: Unity In Diversity strongly endorses the United Way's new anti-discrimination policy. Its 40 member agencies will be asked to sign an agreement to provide services regardless of ability to pay, race, religion, color, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, disability or age in order to receive funds in 2002.

The policy has come into question because the Boy Scouts of America, represented locally by the Bay-Lakes Council, have a policy that precludes them from serving gays and individuals who do not believe in God.

Toward Community, an eight-year-old volunteer organization, has focused largely on cultural diversity issues in the Fox Valley. But last year members  pledged to become "intentionally welcoming" and more vocal on issues that affect gays and lesbians in the community.

As the national debate on the Boy Scouts position ensued, members of Toward Community decided as a group to take a stand on the issue. In a letter to the editor of the Appleton Post Crescent newspaper, dated Oct. 22, 2000, Kathy J. Fredericks, chair of Toward Community,  "The Boy Scouts are well within their First Amendment rights as a privately funded organization to hold their own beliefs. However, many organizations claim First Amendment protection. We may not agree with the beliefs of the Ku Klux Klan, but we do acknowledge the rights as covered by the First Amendment.

"Toward Community: Unity In Diversity encourages the Boys Scouts to follow the fine example given by the Girl Scouts, who have never felt a need to install a policy of exclusion into their troops."

The following is an official statement from Toward Community in response to the United Way's decision:

Because of the backlash from people critical of the United Way's decision, both in the newspaper and in telephone calls to their office, Toward Community believes it must hold true to its own mission by supporting the United Way for taking a stand for acceptance of all people. 

When you invite a group of people, or in this case, a group of agencies, to follow the same rules, you have created a policy of inclusion. We would be betraying our own mission to "promote unity through an appreciation of the richness of diversity"  if we did not find merit in the United Way's unflinching commitment to serve everyone. Contrary to the opinion of those critical of the decision, the United Way is not discriminating against the Boy Scouts. Rather, they are inviting an agency whose work we respect not to discriminate by picking and choosing individuals  interested in participating. 

Toward Community does not support the Boy Scouts policy to excludes gays and atheists, but we encourage people to follow their hearts when deciding whether or not to support the Boys Scouts through membership or monetary contributions. 

On the other hand, we are truly saddened by the anti-gay verbiage that continues to be put forward by the leadership of the Boy Scouts of America. It is time to end the perpetuation of the fallacious belief that young people who are gay are immoral. 

We strongly encourage those who have given to the United Way in the past to honor the work of member agencies who choose to sign the anti-discrimination statement. Please continue to support human services programs through your contributions to the  United Way.  
 

   ---Toward Community Executive Committee: 
Chair Kathy J. Fredericks
 
Scott Peeples
 
Paul Zilles
 
Jane LaChapelle McCarty
 
Loretha Dempsey
 
Renae  Belknap
 
Pastor G. Manns
 
Ram Shet
 
Kevin Ruffcorn
 
Barbara Chambers

 

Does 'Morally Straight' equal Narrow Minded?

October 22, 2000

I am disappointed over the Boy Scout policy to discriminate against boys or leaders who may be gay.  It is immoral to incorporate a policy that states one boy is better than the other because of sexual orientation.  Before I am accused of being un-American, I want to state that I believe the Boy Scouts have done wonderful things for our nation's boys.  Their programs have built character and self-confidence for many decades.  I am not attacking the Boy Scouts as a whole, simply this discriminatory policy.

The Boy Scouts are well within their First Amendment rights as a privately funded organization to hold their own beliefs.  However, many organizations claim First Amendment protection.  We may not agree with the beliefs of the Ku Klux Klan, but we do acknowledge their rights as covered by the First Amendment.  Does this make their discrimination morally acceptable?   Certainly not.  If the Scouts excluded boys who were African-American, Asian or from any other minority group, our country would be outraged.  How can we allow this organization to go into our classrooms for recruiting and use homosexuality as a reason for exclusion?  This furthers the belief that there is something lacking in our gay young men.  There are younger Cub Scouts who are currently active with the Boy Scouts.  Later in life, some of these Scouts, upon realizing their sexual identity, may be discriminated against by the very organization that taught them to stand up for their beliefs.

Toward Community: Unity in Diversity encourages the Boy Scouts to follow the fine example given by their sister organization, the Girl Scouts,  who have never felt a need to install a policy of exclusion into their troops.

Kathy J Fredericks 
Chair, Toward Community: Unity in Diversity


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