Dear Mr. Snapp:
The United Way of Snohomish County recently adopted a policy to not fund groups that discriminate
against any minority. Snohomish County by an overwhelming majority (15-2) voted against discrimination of minorities.
Duane Rhodes, scout executive with the Mount Baker Council (which includes Snohomish and Whatcom County) said the decision
disappointed him. He defended the Boy Scouts discrimination by comparing it to the exclusion of men from the Battered Women's
Task Force. There are constitutional prohibitions against sexual discrimination that includes men.
The law allows
a group to exclude a protected class from participation if it has good cause. Almost all women who have been battered are
seeking refuge from their male partners. They are mentally, emotionally and physically frightened of men and do not want
to be housed in the same area where men are present. If men were housed in the same area as the victims of assault and battering
then it would result in the constructive denial of the help these women need. The courts have ruled that the exclusion of
men under these circumstances constitutes good cause.
Men have an alternative in that they can go to the Light House
Mission, which excludes women.
Homosexuals are frequently accused of being child molesters. Yet every study that
has ever been conducted has concluded that homosexuals are no more likely to molest children than heterosexual men. Does
the Boy Scout policy of excluding homosexuals reinforce this stereotype? Consider, when I drove by the demonstration at the
Boy Scout headquarters in Bellingham a man was carrying a sign that said "Would you want your kids to be alone in the
woods with these guys". The Boy Scouts policy of excluding homosexuals does reinforce the concept of molestation of
children and thereby encourages violence.
When our legislature passed the "law against discrimination"
(LAD*) it did so because our elected officials felt "that such discrimination threatens not only the rights and proper
privileges of its inhabitants but menaces the institutions and foundation of a free democratic state". Our legislature
understood that when a society allows discrimination to go unchallenged then not only are the victims harmed but society is
harmed as well.
If the United Way agrees with the Boy Scouts that their discrimination is not harmful then it should
adopt a policy that allows funding of any group regardless of who is discriminated against. However, if the United Way agrees
with the legislature that discrimination is harmful to the victims and to society then a policy of funding only organizations
that do not discriminate should be passed.
Sheila L Richardson
*LAD ??W 49.60.010