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SB24 votes to support Boy Scouts

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Louisa Chan was the only board member to vote against it last Thursday.

Levy said the Boy Scout policy, which prohibits gays from being troop leaders, violated the Board of Education's rules against discrimination based on sexual orientation. As a result, he barred the Scouts from bidding on contracts with the school system and from actively recruiting in the schools.

But School Board 24 members Frank Borzellieri and Mary Crowley Grogan drafted the resolution to counteract Levy's order. SB 24 covers Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth and parts of Elmhurst.

Borzellieri said the resolution was drafted in order to show support for the Boy Scouts.

"The point is we're making a moral statement on behalf of the district," he said. "It's the right thing to do. In a legal sense my understanding is that we don't have any authority to override Levy by state law but Once again he is going against the will of the community."

Many members of the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee of Flushing who attended the event to plead with the board to vote against the resolution booed loudly and called it "a very sad day."

"As an openly gay teacher, I must tell you that you are sending a hateful message to the children of this district," said Daniel Dromm, president of the QLGPC. Dromm said the passage of the resolution would further allow students to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

"Most Americans have the highest respect for the Boy Scouts," he said. "But hatred, bigotry, and discrimination are lessons that no child should learn."

Board member Robert Cermelli said the Boy Scouts are important in the schools because many children need figures they can look up to. He said that politics and personal views should be left out of the discussion because only children would stand to lose.

But Chan disagreed with her fellow board member.

"Any public or private discrimination is wrong," said Chan. "We should not discriminate and that is why I am voting against this resolution."

This was not the first time the QLGPC has been at odds with members of School Board 24. In June 1999 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Boy Scouts had the right to follow its own policy on gays because it was a private organization. A month later, QLGPC filed a complaint against the Board of Ed on the grounds that it was violating its own non-discrimination policy by having a business relationship with the Scouts.

It was also not the first time School Board 24 has battled a schools' chancellor on gay issues. Seven years ago the board led a revolt against the Children of the Rainbow Curriculum, when it became publicly known that a book on the curriculum, "Heather Has Two Mommies," described a lesbian couple planning to have a child by artificial insemination. The contract of then-Chancellor Joseph Fernandez, who supported the Rainbow Curriculum as well as condoms in high schools, was not renewed.

Wayne Mahlke, another QLGPC member who said he was disappointed with the board's decision, said the SB 24 members should have looked beyond their own political agendas.

"We are people just like you," he said. "They should have done what was morally and ethically right. I am very disappointed."

Posted 7:17 pm, October 10, 2011
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