BSA Attack - Text of Tribune Article/ACLU Press Release
Bob Nieland (rgn@MCS.NET)
Wed, 31 Jul 1996 21:53:53 -0500
ACLU WANTS A WARNING TO SCOUTS
GROUP TARGETS THEIR GOVERNMENT AGENCY SPONSORS
By Terry Wilson, Tribune Staff Writer
Web-posted Wednesday, July 31, 1996; 5:59 a.m. CDT
Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois said Tuesday
that they have asked governmental agencies that charter Boy Scout troops to
formally warn Scouting officials about a loss of support if the organization
continues to practice what the ACLU says are discriminatory policies.
The request came in letters referring to a February ruling by the Chicago
Commission on Human Relations that the Chicago Area Council of the Boy
Scouts of America discriminated when it told a gay man, who was represented
by the ACLU, not to apply for a job.
That action violated the city's human-rights ordinance, which bars
discrimination against people because of race, gender, age, religion, sexual
orientation and other factors, according to the commission.
But Roger Leishman, director of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Project of the
ACLU, said the Boy Scouts continue to require prospective Scouts, leaders
and other employees to recognize an obligation to God, which could be
discriminatory to some people.
"The city and other organizations cannot offer a program that is off-limits
to some members of the public," Leishman said. "They need to get themselves
exempted from this policy or they need to stop operating these programs."
Letters were sent to the Chicago corporation counsel, the Cook County
state's attorney, the Chicago Housing Authority and several other agencies.
Rebecca Fields, spokeswoman for the Chicago Area Council of the Boy Scouts
of America, said: "The BSA does not ask prospective members about their
sexual preference nor do we inquire on the sexual orientation of boys who
are already Scouts. We allow youths to live as children and enjoy Scouting
without immersing them in the politics of the day."
Fields also acknowledged in her statement that BSA policy "does not allow
for the registration of avowed homosexuals as members or as leaders of the BSA."
The ACLU asked that attorneys for the agencies respond to their request
within 30 days. Most had just received the letters and had not had time to
"I think the letter is off-base," said Corporation Counsel Susan Sher.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City