1998.05.06 LA Times: Gay Policy Costs Scouts in Berkeley
Christopher K. Sokolov (email@example.com)
Wed May 06 02:29:49 1998
Wednesday, May 6, 1998
Gay Policy Costs Scouts in Berkeley
By RON HARRIS, Associated Press Writer
BERKELEY, Calif.--The Boy Scouts of
America's refusal to admit gays and
atheists has cost a local Sea Scouts
troop their free dock space at the Berkeley
The Berkeley City Council voted 8 -1
Tuesday night to deny the Sea Scouts
subsidized berthing of two training ships.
The Boy Scouts, headquartered in Irving,
Texas, bar gays and atheists from
membership. The organization says
homosexuality violates their concept of
traditional moral values, embodied in a
provision of the Scout oath in which members
pledge to be "morally straight."
But Berkeley ordinances make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of
sexual preference or religion.
Council members Kriss Worthington, Margaret Breland and Linda
Maio have argued against spending public money to subsidize the local
"If we continue to give them the berths rent-free, it means the
government is sanctioning discrimination," Worthington said. "We're
not kicking the Scouts out of Berkeley or off the marina. They should
just pay for their berths like everyone else."
But those speaking for the crews of the two boats -the Farallon and the
Northland -said finding $12,000 for the annual fees would be tough.
Their major fund-raiser each year is a sponge-toss booth at a street
"If it was a few hundred dollars, no problem, we'd just dig into our
pockets and come up with the money," said John Sargent, a parent who
volunteers with the Northland crew. "We don't get any money from
the Boy Scouts of America. The free berths makes it possible to have a
program that only charges the kids $7 a year."
The local Sea Scouts' mission statement has been rewritten to read,
"Sexual orientation is a private matter; and we do not ask adults or
youths to divulge this information at any time."
But Worthington wasn't buying it.
"If one of the Sea Scouts were to come out and say, `I am gay,' they
would still have to be kicked out or the whole group would risk being
shut down by the Boy Scouts," Worthington said. "And that's still
Caught in the middle are teen-agers like Kyle Thorton, who said the
East Bay Sea Scouts program helped steer him away from gangs.
"If it wasn't for the Sea Scouts, I'd probably be shoplifting and getting
into trouble," said Kyle Thorton, 15, of nearby Richmond. "Learning
how to handle a ship in the bay is a lot better than getting shot at."
Copyright Los Angeles Times
Christopher K. Sokolov, Quartermaster
Western Region Area III Boatswain, Sea Scouts, B.S.A.