Boston Scouts Try 'Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell'

ByABC News

B O S T O N, Aug. 1, 2001 -- One of Massachusetts' largest Boy Scout councilswill allow gay scoutmasters under a new "don't ask-don't tell"policy, despite the national organization's ban on homosexuals.

"Discussions about sexual orientation do not have a place inScouts," said Brock Bigsby, Scout executive for the MassachusettsMinuteman Council. "The Scouts will not inquire into a person'ssexual history, and that person will not expose their sexualorientation one way or the other."

The Minuteman Council, an umbrella organization of 330 Scouttroops and 18,000 Boy Scouts in Greater Boston, approved the bylawJuly 19. The policy also prohibits the exclusion of anyone on thebasis of race or religion.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Boy Scouts ofAmerica may exclude gays from serving as troop leaders.

A Consistent Bylaw

Bigsby maintains the new bylaw is consistent with the nationalBoy Scouts' policy, since scout leaders would not be permitted todiscuss their sexual orientation.

Greg Shields, national spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America,referred all inquiries to Bigsby.

A spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union said theBoston council may be the first in the country to draft ananti-discrimination policy within the framework of the Scouts'national bylaws.

"To have a policy that takes sexual orientation off the tableentirely instead of making homosexuality seem like a dirty littlesecret is encouraging and significant," Eric Ferrero of the ACLU'sLesbian and Gay Rights Project told The Boston Globe. "And itsounds like what the group has done is going to be difficult forthe National Boy Scouts to oppose."

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