Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Looking Into Boy Scout Recruitment

Margaret Downey, a board member of the organization Scouting For All and President of the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia, has written to ask for the help of anyone who agree that atheists shouldn't be excluded from Scouting. When I think back to the tension during my own board of review for the Life rank, I realize now that the questions were narrowly concerned with the expression of Christian faith in my life. What made me uncomfortable back then at the age of 15 makes me indignant now. The institution of Scouting has much to offer young men, yet a hypothetical youth of impeccable virtue and advanced rationality would be denied those benefits, and forced to seek the same camaraderie and wholesome experiential learning... where? Religion is irrelevant to Scouting's broader program of moral and physical development. I would rather see the religion expunged from Scouting before Scouting ejected from public schools, but on the chance that such expulsion will instigate change you can be sure I will personally be contacting local schools, as Margaret asks requests in the following missive:

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) are currently involved in their annual recruitment drive usually held at all public elementary and middle schools. The Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia contends that if BSA (as a declared private organization) only wants religious children as members, they should conduct their recruitment drives at private religious schools only.

I am currently presenting this argument to the Unionville/Chadds Ford School District in an attempt to stop the Boy Scout recruitment drive. Furthermore, I am using the school districts' own policy as evidence that BSA should not be allowed to use school facilities free of charge. Policy 707 reads in part, that free use of the facility is granted to non-profit organizations "...whose membership is open to district residents."

I really need your help, everyone. I can't cover the entire area (or other states) alone. I am working hard in my own area and I beg all of you to put pressure on BSA and the school where you reside. Contact your local elementary and middle schools and ask the following:

1. Is the school allowing BSA to recruit on school grounds?
2. How is BSA conducting its recruitment drive in the school?
3. Does the recruitment drive involve teachers or administrators (handing out flyers, hosting BSA representatives in the classroom or cafeteria, etc.)?
4. Does a teacher or administrator advocate for BSA membership either by announcements or posting of signs?
5. Does BSA have free use of the school facility for their meetings?
6. Where can a copy of the "Use of School Facilities" policy found?
7. Can I have a copy of that policy?

You are taxpayers whose money is used to support the public school system. You have the right to protect Atheist families from discrimination scenarios. Your calls are actually an attempt to protect the school district from becoming entangled with a discrimination lawsuit should an innocent child be treated like a second class citizen within the confines of his public school. School district funds should not be jeopardized in this way.

No comments: