Queens Gay And Lesbian Group Demands Justice On Boy Scouts In Schools

Less than one month after the U.S. Supreme Courts ruling to allow Boy Scouts to prohibit openly gay leaders, the Queens Lesbian And Gay Pride Committee has filed an official complaint of discrimination against City Schools Chancellor Harold Levy and the Board of Education. Following the case of James Dale versus The Boy Scouts of America (BSA), The QLGPC filed suit in an effort to block them from conducting meetings in public schools.
In a letter to Levy, QLGPC charges that the school board violated its "own non-discriminatory policy regarding sexual orientation" in its failure to "end its association with an avowedly anti-gay organization, the Boy Scouts of America."
Almost every school in the New York Public School System allows the Boy Scouts of America to recruit new members. According to Daniel Dromm, co chairperson of the QLGPC, The Boy Scouts of America has a contract with the City for $300,000 in schools in Northern Manhattan and the Bronx.
"We believe you have a moral duty as well as a legal mandate to ensure that all of New York Citys school children receive an education free from prejudice and discrimination," Dromms letter said. "Anything less than removing them from the NYC public schools would be tantamount to saying that you agree with their discriminatory actions against troop leaders on the basis of their sexual orientation. Thats a lesson no child should have to learn." Dromm, co-chairman of the committee, filed the letter on July 6. As a fourth grade teacher at PS 199 in Long Island City, Dromm said that the presence of the Boy Scouts cultivates a hostile environment for gays.
"The board may not legally continue its policy of discrimination," Dromm told The Queens Courier. "The Chancellor is behaving illegally."
The Boy Scouts have openly said that they believe homosexuality is "inconsistent" with its values and messages. "We are very pleased with the U.S. Supreme Courts decision in the Dale case," said a representative from the organizations national office. "We believe an avowed homosexual is not a role model; for the values espoused in the Scout Oath and Law."
Evan Wolfson, the Senior Staff Attorney at Lambda, the nations largest legal organization for lesbians, gay men, and people with HIV/AIDS, represented James Dale in the recent Supreme Court case. "As long as the Boy Scouts leaders are insisting on an exclusionary membership policy, the rest of us, especially public schools, parents, donors, are going to disassociate ourselves from discrimination against our kids," he said.
Based on the Boy Scouts pledge to be "open to all boys," many government agencies, including police departments, military units and public schools, sponsor Scout troops, making public entities responsible for upholding the policy. By its policy, BSA stands to forfeit the litany of governmental privileges it has historically enjoyed, including favorable tax treatment, access to facilities and services, and a close association with Congress, the President, the military, and other government agencies.
Other youth organizations that receive similar public sponsorship, such as the Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs, and the National 4-H Club specifically ban discrimination on sexual orientation. Dawn Walker, director of Public Relations for the Girl Scout Council of Greater New York, told The Queens Courier, "The Girl Scout organization does not discriminate. We do not permit the advocacy or promotion of a personal lifestyle or sexual orientation. Girl Scout volunteers and staff must at all times serve as appropriate role models for girls."
Since the Supreme Courts ruling City Councilwoman Christine Quinn, put in a legislative request to draft a law prohibiting the Boy Scouts from having a relationship with the New York Police Department through an Explorers Club Camp. The legislation, if passed, would also prevent other public agencies, like the Board of Education, from allowing the Scouts to use any City property or resources. Maura Keeny, chief of staff for Quinn explained "Were trying a multi-sided approach. We want to sever the relationship the City has with the Boy Scouts."
Chancellor Harold Levys office declined to comment by press time.

More from Around New York