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The Daily Tar Heel

Local Scouts Need to Take High Ground

On the one hand, I find their official stance against having gay troop leaders repulsive. But on the other I support their right, as a private organization, to discriminate in any way they want.

Any attempt then to discriminate against the Boy Scouts (for example, not allowing them to use public facilities) could be construed as just as bad as the Boy Scouts discriminating against gay men. It could be made out to be censorship of politically incorrect ideas.

But the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School Board made the right decision last month when members voted to not allow the Boy Scouts to meet on school property after June 30, the end of the school year.

There is a difference between discrimination and nonendorsement.

By continuing to allow the Boy Scouts to use school facilities, the school board would have sent the message it supported the Boy Scouts and their anti-gay policies even if, in reality, it didn't.

Not changing the district's policy toward the Boy Scouts also would have continued financial support for the group.

The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts were the only outside groups allowed to use the district's facilities for free. While not direct financial support, that policy does free up more of the group's resources for other activities.

The two Cub Scout packs local schools chartered will lose their charters in June as well, which ends official support for the organization as well.

And it's not as though the school board didn't give the Boy Scouts an option.

The other policy the board considered was to allow the Boy Scouts to continue to use district facilities if leaders would sign a contract pledging to with the school board's nondiscrimination policies. It was rejected because Boy Scout leaders didn't support the proposal.

"I don't really consider that a viable option," local Eagle Scout Andrew Ross said at the meeting.

"I can't see how local organizations can say we will be in defiance of Boy Scouts national policy but still be a Boy Scout organization."

But as board member Elizabeth Carter said, the Boy Scouts were asking the school board to be in defiance of their own nondiscrimination policy.

Yes, it's unfortunate that local troops that might not agree with national policy are being punished for that policy.

But by not defying the policy, local troops, ones in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, are giving the policies their endorsements.

Instead of sitting around shrugging their shoulders saying they can't do anything about a policy they didn't make, local troop leaders and scouts should be doing something about it. If that means violating the organization's policies, then so be it.

Otherwise, they shouldn't go whining to school boards about how it's not fair that they can't use school space when they don't agree with the discrimination policy.

Don't tell us; show us.

According to the Boy Scout's official Web site, "Membership in the Boy Scouts of America plays a major role in shaping lasting values and the use of these values in daily life."

If that's the case, you can't participate in the organization without sharing its values.

Boy Scouts are supposed to serve their communities.

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And it seems obvious that any community -- but especially this one with its liberal nondiscriminatory policies and prominent and effective gay leaders -- cannot be served by an organization that discriminates against some of its members.

School board members should be proud of their stand against discrimination, and local Boy Scouts who disagree with the organization's national policy should be ashamed for accepting it.

Columnist Erin Mendell can be reached at mendell@email.unc.edu.

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