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Scout council defies homosexual ban
Posted By David M. Bresnahan On 10/11/2000 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled
One of the local councils of the Boy Scouts of America is openly
defying the national organization’s ban on homosexual members and
National BSA officials are currently debating what to do with the
renegade Piedmont, Calif., Council, which recently informed scouts and
their parents that it is opposed to the national policy, which was
recently affirmed in June by the U.S. Supreme Court. A letter sent by
council executive director Josephine Pegrum-Hazelett said the Piedmont
Council is opposed to discrimination based on religion, ethnicity or
The action by Pegrum-Hazelett brought calls for the elimination of
the Piedmont Council.
“The only thing the National Council could do, really, is to revoke
their charter,” said Alden G. Barber, retired fifth national chief scout
executive. He said the scout troops and packs involved could then easily
be absorbed into another council. All scout groups must have a charter
from the national office in order to function.
Troubles with the Piedmont Council are nothing new, said Barber, who
added, “I’ve heard about them all my professional life.”
The former chief scout executive explained: “Piedmont is a very rich
community in Oakland. Because of that, they sometimes have the
inclination to be about as independent as a hog on ice. Over the years,
the national council has urged them to consolidate with local councils,
but they sort of feel they’re above all that.”
The action by the Piedmont Council is the first opposition to the ban
on homosexuals and atheists by a chartered council and paid BSA
professionals, according to Greg Shields, national Boy Scouts of America
The Piedmont Council is the smallest in the nation. Located near San
Francisco, it covers Piedmont and Alameda.
“They’re so small, you could throw a stone across it,” said Barber,
who said there have been many efforts over the years to eliminate the
Piedmont Council and make it part of the larger San Francisco Bay Area
A pro-scouting activist spoke out in agreement with Barber and called
for the removal of paid leaders who oppose the national policy.
“Our youth lack, at times, the respect of those in authority in
today’s society,” said Gavin Grooms, chairman of
Save Our Scouts. “The Boy Scout program is one of the last bastions of hope to teach our youth respect and honor. If adult leaders teach by example that we can openly choose which rules we will follow and which ones we won’t, we will be open to anarchy throughout our great country.”
Grooms and several congressmen recently organized Save Our
Scouts to help scout councils adversely impacted by homosexual activists.
In just five weeks, Save Our Scouts has
obtained over 45,000
signers of a petition on its website, and numerous local chapters of the group have also been formed.
“It’s more then just a fight for the right to associate with whom we choose, it is the fight for the soul of our country. It’s a fight for our families,” Grooms stated.
Barber doesn’t believe other councils will take similar action.
“I think the danger of that is about as remote as me leaving for the moon tomorrow,” said Barber, who added that defiant action by any individual or group will not change the BSA’s policy toward homosexuals or atheists.
“If I were still chief scout executive of the Boy Scouts of America, what the Piedmont Council does or does not do would not sway my view one way or the other,” said Barber.
A homosexual activist group that has been calling for homosexual adult leaders in the Boy Scouts for several years was quick to applaud the Piedmont Council.
Scouting for All has organized a number of protests against the BSA’s policy on homosexuals.
“Scouting for All applauds the Piedmont Council’s stand opposing the Boy Scouts of America’s policy of discrimination against gay youth, adults and atheists! Through its actions, the Piedmont Council has shown courage and respect of the fundamental values of Scouting based in the Scout Oath and Law — ‘to respect and defend the rights of all people,’” said Scouting for All president,
Scott Cozza in a written statement.
Shields pointed out that other councils have asked the National Council to “review” the policy against homosexuals and atheists, and said that is the appropriate way to seek change.
The Scout Law states, “a scout is obedient.” Shields was critical of leaders who teach youth to disobey rather than seek change in an appropriate way.
Local councils are not authorized to make an independent decision regarding the ban on homosexuals, said Shields, who added that they may not sign “non-discrimination agreements.”
“They must go along with the national policy. The council up in Rhode Island, their volunteer board, passed a resolution saying they thought it would be good to reconsider the policy. That’s a long way different from saying ‘we’re not going along with the policy.’ That’s massively different,” said Shields.
Although homosexual activists are framing the issue as one of human rights, it isn’t a question of human rights at all, insists Shields.
Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, agreed. Cannon is an adviser to the
Scouting Legal Defense Fund.
“This is an issue of free speech and the right of assembly,” said Cannon, who added that he is
collecting signatures at the Scouting
Legal Defense Fund website in an effort to
get the presidential candidates to state where they stand on the
Boy Scout issue. The signatures will help him to get the moderators of the remaining presidential debates to ask where the candidates stand on the Boy Scout issue, he said.
When WorldNetDaily contacted Barber by phone at his home in California, he said he had just returned from a meeting of other retired BSA executives. There was a great deal of discussion about the challenges faced by Boy Scouts, but the participants were unanimous about not changing the national policy towards homosexuals and atheists, he said.
Barber and his group approve of the efforts of Save Our Scouts and the Scouting Legal Defense Fund, and he said he is working to help both efforts.
Shields could not comment on when the BSA National Council would decide what to do about the defiance of the Piedmont Council.
The Piedmont Council did not respond to requests for an interview.
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