At least a dozen executive directors of local Big Brothers Big Sisters affiliates are defying a new directive from national headquarters requiring them to allow homosexuals to mentor children of the same gender, according to a World magazine report.

The dissenting executive directors interviewed by the magazine spoke on condition of anonymity fearing reprisals from national headquarters and their own local directors. Local affiliates of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America are independently funded and managed, paying about $5,500 in annual dues for the privilege of using the organizational name, fund-raising machinery and administrative support.

One Midwestern director said he sent letters to the parents of 65 children on the affiliate’s waiting list. Only “four or five” said they wouldn’t mind homosexual, same-sex mentors for their children, he told the magazine. Another local director said “nearly 100 percent of the people who called us about this policy said, ‘We don’t want this.'”

Another director said he is “very concerned about putting children at risk” of molestation by homosexual mentors. While the organization still has rules forbidding the matching of girls with men mentors because of the potential for molestation, the new rule permits homosexual men to mentor boys.

One Big Brother affiliate executive director noted that donations are down 10 percent since the national office announced its directive, “Standard 22.” She said concern about the new policy has “sapped our energy and our focus. It has taken countless man-hours and time and energy away from what we all want to be doing and that’s serving kids.” The affiliate has lost one staff person and one volunteer. Other volunteers have told the director they will not renew their commitments once their current match with a child has ended.

One local affiliate in Owensboro, Ky., has already resigned its affiliation with the national office and changed its name to “Quest for Kids.” With its new moniker came a new mission: matching kids with Christian adults who could not only model biblical gender roles, but also, with parental permission, teach kids about Christ.

According to Quest for Kids board chairman Brad Rhoads, the group is now receiving donations from churches and other new sources and has not lost any Big Brothers donors.

Headquartered in Philadelphia, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America has provided adult mentors to kids for 98 years. Each of the 490 affiliates operates with near-total autonomy, adhering only to a set of general “standards of practice,” which are meant to help children grow within mentoring relationships, while protecting them from physical or emotional harm. Local agencies appoint their own boards of directors, hire their own executive directors and staff, raise their own money, recruit their own mentors and tailor their own local screening procedures to ensure mentor fitness.

The national organization has argued that children are at no greater risk of being molested by a homosexual than by a heterosexual. Yet some studies counter that claim. The Journal of Sex Research found that homosexual pedophiles commit about one-third of the total number of child sex offenses in the United States, even though homosexuals make up no more than 5 percent of the U.S. population.

Just last month authorities charged Scott A. Wagner, 34, of Newark, Ohio, with raping a 12-year-old boy. The boy had been visiting Wagner’s home as a client of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Licking County. On Sept. 27, a grand jury indicted Wagner on 73 child-sex related charges involving young boys. Also in September, the Columbus Dispatch reported two molestation cases from 2001 that involved assaults on young boys by Big Brothers in Toronto and Newton, Mass.

The national office reportedly declined to respond to World magazine’s repeated requests for interviews about why the change in policy was made.

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