TAMPA, Fla. — The Pinellas County School Board this week voted to reject a $54,838 grant for a program run by a subsidiary of the Boy Scouts of America because the organization discriminates against gay youth.
The funding was designated for “Learning for Life” — a character education program that teaches students values like respect, responsibility, honesty and fairness. Learning for Life is a subsidiary of the Boy Scouts of America, which has publicly stated that “homosexuality is inconsistent with its values.”
Board member Linda Lerner, who has a gay son, has been trying to get the board to split from the program for ten years.
“This board has a chance to send a strong message to the Boy Scouts,” said Lerner during the meeting. “I was pleasantly surprised [when they agreed], and I believe that it is so good for our district for our educators, students, and citizens, gay and straight.”
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In an editorial on Thursday, The St. Petersburg Times said:
The Boy Scouts of America is a civic institution that has provided millions of young men the chance to experience the great outdoors, the opportunity to develop leadership skills and hone other critical talents that guide them into adulthood. But it is also hypocritical for an organization to promote a school character-building program stressing respect, responsibility, honesty and citizenship while openly discriminating against children because of their sexual orientation.
Along with Pinellas, at least eight other Florida counties either have or currently receive Learning for Life grants, including Polk, Manatee, Lee, Orange, Dade, Duval, Escambia, and Palm Beach counties.