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Letters: Boy Scouts and exclusion

Jennifer Tyrrell, who was ousted as a den

Jennifer Tyrrell, who was ousted as a den mother because she is a lesbian, delivered a petition with 300,000 signatures to the Boy Scouts of America headquarters in Irving, Texas urging the organization to reinstate her and abandon its policy of excluding gays. (July 18, 2012) Credit: AP

In the editorial "Scouts perpetuate a lie" [July 19], Newsday missed an important point.

Jennifer Tyrrell must have known full well that the Boy Scouts prohibit openly gay people from serving as scout leaders, but she chose to remain silent about her sexual orientation, and became a scout leader anyway. Why? To score political points, and attract attention for her values and beliefs, while sticking it to the Boy Scouts of America in the public arena as being intolerant and hateful.

This sums up the gay and lesbian movement today. It's about their quest for more power and influence over our government, private organizations, school districts and religious institutions. Gays want everyone to accept their value system, and they will continue to publicly label people as being intolerant and hateful if they do not embrace their sexual orientations as accepted norms. Where's the tolerance in that?

Peter C. Ekstrom, North Massapequa

The Boy Scouts of America announced that their practice of excluding gays as members or leaders is "absolutely the best policy."

While I suppose this is not surprising, it does remain disheartening. However, this decision may also violate New York's new Dignity Act, which was passed as a result of concern about bullying.

The Dignity Act, signed into law by Gov. David A. Paterson, became effective July 1. The act prohibits discrimination based on a person's actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation or gender. This applies to school employees or students on school property or at a school function.

Surely, having a policy that discriminates against members and leaders based solely on their sexual orientation goes against the message and spirit of this act. With the Dignity Act in place, public school districts in particular must send the message to the Boy Scouts that such discrimination will no longer be tolerated on school grounds.

Dorothy Ahl, Lindenhurst

The Boy Scouts of America, founded in 1910, is in danger of becoming irrelevant in 21st century America. Newsday's coverage, including Walt Handelsman's insightful cartoon, speaks to the issue loud and clear. But are the Boy Scouts listening?

The Boy Scouts is a venerable institution based on many laudable principles, but it can learn a great deal from two other venerable American institutions. Our U.S. Armed Forces recently ended their "don't ask, don't tell" policy, and the Parent-Teacher Association, which is more than 100 year old, established the nation's first gay PTA group, the Long Island Gay Parent Teacher Student Association, in April of this year in Garden City.

In the forward to my copy of the Boy Scouts of America handbook, it states, "It is our hope that by being a part of our troop, we will inspire you and help you to be watchful for opportunities to help other people. To be tolerant and respectful of the rights of others, to be courageous and self-reliant -- in other words, to be a good American." It is time for the Boy Scouts to be courageous and to heed their own words.

Victor Caliman, South Huntington

Editor's note: The writer earned the rank of Eagle Scout.