WASHINGTON (AP) - A Cub Scout pack in Maryland says it was forced to remove an anti-discrimination statement from its website in order to keep its charter.
Pack 442, which is based in the suburbs of Washington, said it acted under pressure when it took down a statement affirming its policy against discrimination based on race, religion and sexual orientation. The statement apparently ran afoul of Boy Scouts of America's membership policy, which currently excludes gays as scouts or leaders.
The Boy Scouts council that represents the Washington region did not directly address the Cub Scout pack's allegations of coercion, but said it worked with leadership to reach an "amicable resolution" to the dispute. National Capital Area Council said in its own statement that while it welcomed and encouraged debate about Boy Scout membership standards, "it is our responsibility to support all of BSA's policies and ensure they are applied equally to all our members."
The dispute comes even as the Boy Scouts of America considers lifting its nationwide exclusion of gay membership, possibly as soon as next week, and permitting the sponsors of local troops to decide the matter for themselves. NCAC, which covers the District of Columbia and parts of Maryland and Virginia, follows the lead of whatever position is taken by BSA on a national level, said communications director Aaron Chusid.
"We will support and apply the policies of national, whatever those may be. So if national changes their policy, we will continue to be in line with national," he said. "There is no local position on this issue, it's entirely a national policy."
Pack 442, in Cloverly, Md., said in a message on its website that it removed its non-discrimination statement in order to maintain a charter that was due to expire on Jan. 31.
It said the statement "welcomed all families" and had been approved by Pack families last August in "overwhelming" fashion.
The group had asked member families in an online poll to weigh in again about posting the non-discrimination policy, saying some leaders thought it best to remove the statement while others didn't want to acquiesce to the BSA demands. The group did not immediately respond to a written message sent Tuesday.
"Pack 442 will continue to provide a wonderful and enriching program for scouts and families in the community," the group said.
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