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Learning for Life - 1991

August 21, 1991


From:  Ben H. Love  Chief Scout Executive

TO:  National Chartered Organizations

The ongoing funding issue between the Mt. Diablo Council, BSA, Walnut Creek, California, and the United Way of the Bay Area has been receiving much press over the past few days, some of it erroneous. This memo will help clear up any questions that you may have and provide a position statement on our new Learning for Life program. (See attached.)

Last week, the United Way of the Bay Area requested that the Mt Diablo Council issue a joint announcement on reaching an accord over the BSA's standards of membership and leadership. When the council received a copy of what the United Way wished to release to the media, they found it unacceptable. Boy Scout professionals on four occasions asked that material not be released because of erroneous statements.

This release indicated and was picked up by the media that Scouting is available to all youth. As you well know this is not true in the traditional program of the BSA. Only those who will subscribe to our Scout Oath and Law are eligible for membership. Our position not to register avowed atheists has not changed nor will it change. Boy Scouting and Cubbing is for boys only. You may be aware of litigation that we presently have to uphold our ideals and principles. We have not and will not change our requirement that an adults in the traditional program of the BSA and Learning for Life must meet our Standards of Leadership. We do not feel that homosexuals are the proper role model for our youth.

Our intent is to keep you fully informed If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact your BSA liaison in the Relationships Division at BSA National Headquarters in Irving, Texas (214-580-2119).

Position Statement
August 14, 1991
Learning for Life

The Boy Scouts of America in-school Scouting program began in 1982. Over the nine years of its existence, the program has gown to serve nearly one million youth across the United States In 1988, we began a complete review of the program. This study resulted in the formation of a new BSA subsidiary called Learning for Life. In October of 1990, the Board approved formation of the program and it will be introduced in September, 1991. Learning for Life separates the traditional program of the Boy Scouts of America from nontraditional in-school Scouting programs.

The one major aspect of Learning for Life that remains the same as traditional BSA programs is that adult leadership in Learning for Life must meet the standards of traditional BSA programs, standards which have not changed.

There are numerous aspects of Learning for Life that make it non-traditional and different from traditional BSA programs:

Learning for Life is the new subsidiary corporation of the Boy Scouts of America. Learning for Life is designed to be a "Partner in Education." It is supplemental curriculum to support schools in their efforts to educate students, Learning for Life has been designed to be both age appropriate and grade specific.

Learning for Life is designed to be a partner in education and to respond to the needs of young people in a classroom setting.

This new non-traditional program will be available to an young people. However, standards of membership for youth in traditional BSA programs -- Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, and Exploring -- will not be changed. Traditional BSA values remain an integral part of the program.

Learning for Life is not intended to compete with traditional BSA programs. Rather, it adds an additional dimension to the service the BSA provides to young people.

The program is designed as a community outreach effort to be implemented at the discretion of local council boards of directors. It is not a mandatory program for local councils. It is the prerogative of the Council Executive Board to determine the scope of involvement Each local council determines their own amount of community outreach, educational support and budgetary involvement.

By broadening its nondiscrimination policy, the San Francisco school hoard has effectively barred the Boy Scouts of America from offering instructional programs in the district's schools.

While it does not specifically mention the Boy Scouts, the resolution, adopted 5 to 1 on Sept. 13, states that any "organizations, associations, and independent contractors" that provide educational programs, activities, or services must have the same nondiscrimination policy as the district's.

Board policy says the school district "shall not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, creed, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, or handicapping condition." The Boy Scouts bars homosexuals and requires members to subscribe to an "obligation to God."

The issued flared recently with the Scouts' announcement of plans to offer an in-school curriculum package called "Learning for Life." Under Boy Scout policy, adults who lead the program, including public-school teachers, must meet the same leadership standards as scoutmasters, who may not be homosexuals or atheists. (See Education Week, Sept. 4, 1991 .)

Learning for Life will supplant a national "in-school scouting" program, in which scoutmasters teach life skills to students during the instructional day, that had been conducted for several years in San Francisco and other districts. At least five public elementary schools in San Francisco carried the program, said Tom Ammiano, the school-board member who drafted the Sept. 13 resolution.

The board's vote does not affect Boy Scout programs conducted before or after school hours, Mr. Ammiano said.


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