US: California synagogue takes action against Boy Scouts anti-gay policy

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A synagogue in California has been the latest in a list of religious groups, and businesses to reject the Boy Scouts of America’s policy, described as “damaging” as it does not allow openly gay members, volunteers or staff.

The board of directors at Temple Isaiah, Lafayette, voted unanimously to take action against the BSA, including recommending that clergy members write letters stating their opposition to the policy, putting financial pressure on the scouts, and refusing to participate in events. 

It will also uphold a current policy which means clergy members will not write Eagle Scout recommendations, or allow religious awards for the BSA until the policy is changed. 

“Though we cannot change the Scouts’ national policy, we can work hard within and outside Temple Isaiah’s walls to create an awareness of the damaging consequences of such policies on all our youth and on our communities,” Rabbi Roberto Graetz said in a statement.

In July 2012, after a two year review, the Boy Scouts of America announced it would retain its ban on gay members, volunteers and staff.

A statement on the Temple Isaiah website read: “The Board of Directors of Temple Isaiah voted unanimously Tuesday night to express its opposition to the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to disqualify participants because of sexual orientation.

“The Board policy calls for a letter writing campaign to the local and national BSA councils, as well as encouraging Temple members and other community organizations to join in the effort to enact change through letters, financial pressure, postponing participation and supporting movements such as Scouts for Equality.

“The Temple Isaiah Board supports the clergy’s current policy of not writing Eagle Scout recommendations, or signing off on religious awards for the Boy Scouts until the BSA membership policy is changed.”

The statement seemed to refer to gay teenager, Ryan Andresen, who last week received his final decision to say that he had been denied the highest Boy Scouts honour, the Eagle Scout badge.

He had previously thought that the the national Boy Scouts of America organisation would approve his application because he had completed all of the requirements, and received a recommendation for approval from a review board at his local council, and had a 460,000 strong petition in his favour. 

Ryan Andresen, 18, from Moraga, California, joined the scouts when he was six, had completed all of the requirements for the Eagle Scout Badge, which included building a 288-tile “tolerance wall” for victims of bullying, such as himself.After appearing as a guest on the Ellen Degeneres Show, the 18-year-old Boy Scout was awarded a $20,000 (£12,476) scholarship towards his college fees.Ryan Andresen was also recognised by Assembly Speaker, John Perez, who is openly gay himself, at the California state Assembly

The Boy Scouts have already lost funding from several large corporate donors, including UPS, back in November, who had given over $150,000 (£95,000), Intel, another of the scouts’ largest donors, ceased funding back in September, and the Merck Foundation in December.