The Florida Pinellas School Board has rejected supplying a $54,000 grant to the “Learning for Life” program on the grounds that it is anti-gay, due to its affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America.
The Christian-based, century old boys’ youth organization Boy Scouts of America prohibits atheists, agnostics, and active homosexuals from holding leadership positions in the program.
According to a 2004 Boy Scouts of America policy statement:
“Boy Scouts of America believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed.”
Spokesman for Boy Scouts of America Deron Smith argued that there is no correlation between Boy Scouts of America and the Learning for Life program, which is a leadership based program promoting career building skills.
“While the membership standards of the BSA do not impact Learning for Life, the leadership of BSA maintains that its programs are not the appropriate forum to discuss and debate one's sexuality,” Smith wrote in an emailed statement to the St. Petersburg Times.
However, the Pinellas School Board voted in a 4-3 win against the program on Tuesday, Oct. 11.
“This board has a chance to send a strong message to the Boy Scouts,” Board Member Linda Lerner, who has a gay son, during the board during their meeting.
As a result of the vote, several schools in the Pinellas school district will now no longer have access to the Learning for Life program.
Chairwoman Carol Cook was one school board member who disagreed with the school board’s decision to cut the program, and voted to keep it.
Cook explained to The Christian Post that following the vote she was "very concerned that we (the school board) had just voted to take out a character education program that teaches respect for all people, under the guise that this organization discriminates."
"I believe the entire board has a commitment and responsibility to understanding how important character development is," she added.
The Boy Scouts of America is one of the oldest and most popular youth programs in the nation, with over 4.5 million members.