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Minneapolis
schools allow Boy Scouts to circulate recruiting materials

Minneapolis
schools allow Boy Scouts to circulate recruiting materials

Complying with a federal mandate in the No Child Left Behind Act, the Minneapolis school district once again is allowing Boy Scout recruiting materials to be sent home with students. The mandate obliges schools to give the Boy Scouts of America the same access to schools as other community groups or lose federal aid. It overturns the Minneapolis school district's ban prohibiting BSA from distributing recruitment materials in schools. The ban, enacted in 2000, was brought about by opposition to the BSA's decision to prohibit openly gay men from being scout leaders. This fall Minneapolis scouting leaders reported a jump in new scout registrations. The Metro Lakes District, which includes Minneapolis, Richfield, and St. Anthony, reported a 108% increase. Access to boys through schools has helped. "It's very important. It's very hard to reach boys otherwise. They don't get all together in one place," said Renee Gutierrez-Wells, who led the district's recruitment campaign. But in David Perry's classroom at Folwell Middle School, scouting material hasn't made a reappearance. When Perry, a teacher active in a national organization that is working to open scouting for gays and atheists, found a stack of recruiting fliers in his mailbox, he quietly decided not to distribute them. Perry offers a simple excuse: "We were not told we had to pass them out." Lauri Appelbaum, coordinator of the district's program for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students and adults, said she learned of the change from inquiring principals. "I think it's really unfortunate that the federal government felt a need to take away local control from school boards," Appelbaum said. In 2002, BSA adopted a resolution declaring that "homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the values espoused in the scout oath and law" and those "values cannot be subject to local option." The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the group's right as a private organization to bar openly gay men from becoming scout leaders. (AP)

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