Originally published on Advocate.com August 16 2003 12:00 AM ET
A Boy Scout troop in Sebastopol, Calif., has lost its charter in a battle over gay rights. The Boy Scouts of America pulled the charter because the troop refused to drop an antidiscrimination statement that runs counter to the BSA national policy barring gay members and troop leaders.
Bev Buswell, adviser to the 16-member troop known as Venture Crew 488, said her application to have the charter renewed was denied because it included a statement pledging that the troop would not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, or sexual orientation.
"The policies of the Boy Scouts of America are not pick-and-choose," said Ralph Voelker, who takes over Friday as executive of the Redwood Empire Boy Scout Council, a four-county jurisdiction that includes Sebastopol.
Three years ago the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Boy Scouts is a private organization and has the right to bar gays as members and scout leaders. Critics, including Buswell, say Scouting's opposition to homosexuality is dictated by conservative national leadership and by churches that sponsor more
than half of Scout troops and packs.