The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday January 29th

Board-Scouts' Alliance Weighed

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education's support of local Boy Scouts might be in jeopardy due to conflicting policies on discrimination.

The Boy Scouts' policy, though somewhat hazy, prohibits "avowed" homosexuals from serving as scoutmasters or joining the scouts, a policy upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.

But the school board also maintains a policy on discrimination, one prohibiting discrimination on any number of characteristics, including sexual orientation. "There's no question that the position of the national Boy Scouts of America takes with regard to excluding homosexuals ... is contrary to the philosophy behind the school board's policy," Superintendent Neil Pedersen said at the board's Thursday night meeting. "If that is what guides you, the logical conclusion of that would be to not affiliate with the Boy Scouts of America."

Despite policy differences, the school board examined ways it could continue supporting the Boy Scouts without supporting its discriminatory policy.

John McCormick, the board's attorney, suggested that the board could continue to support local Boy Scout organizations agreeing to uphold the board's antidiscrimination policy above the Boy Scout's national one. "It places the local chapter in a difficult situation, whether they follow the national policies or your policies," he said. "But that's not a legal problem for you."

Aaron Pinkston, resident of 500 Umstead Drive, suggested to the board that local troops and packs could figure out on their own how to avoid discrimination permitted by the national policy. "Let them figure it out - how they're not going to violate your policy," he said. "You might just want to push it off on the local troops."

After expressing different ideas, board members requested their staff develop three resolutions for discussion, each one outlining a separate course the board could take.

One resolution would disassociate the board from the Boy Scouts completely, while another would continue its current level of association through school sponsorship of troops and allowing the Boy Scouts use of school facilities.

But a third resolution would require troops to sign a statement requiring them to uphold the board's antidiscrimination policy above the Boy Scouts' national one before they could be sponsored or use school facilities.

Joel Dunn, a local Boy Scouts troop leader, said he could not address the feasibility of such a requirement because he was uncertain how the national policy would work on a local level.

"The local units have not received any instruction from the national office in what to do in this particular situation," he said. "It is unclear at the local level what this policy means in terms of directions, but there are many interpretations."

The board also heard from several residents who opposed support of the Boy Scouts.

Mark Kleinschmidt, of 100 Stateside Drive, said the Boy Scout's policy disturbed him as a member of the gay community. Kleinschmidt said he thought the policy might abandon some youths at a confusing time in their lives. "This is that time in a person's life when their sexuality is developing," he said. "(The policy) is an insult to young persons who are struggling with sexuality in their own lives and with their families."

Pinkston said he valued his own experiences in the Boy Scouts, but also was concerned about civil rights for homosexuals. "If I was out about my sexual orientation and my religious beliefs at the time, I don't think I would have gotten my Eagle Scout," he said. "I think I would have been asked to leave not by my pack leader, but by people higher up."

The City Editor can be reached

at citydesk@unc.edu.

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