Some northeast Iowans are speaking out against the Boy Scouts of America's policy that bans gays from being scouts or leaders.
Zach Wahls, an activist for the gay community and who grew up in Iowa City, launched Scouts for Equality on the national level. Some eastern Iowans have heeded that call and started a local petition.
On Change.org, more than 450 people, many of whom are eastern Iowans, have signed their name to a petition specifically targeting the Boy Scouts' Northeast Iowa Council.
The petition calls the Boy Scouts of America's policy on banning gays from being scouts or leaders discriminatory and asks for the Northeast Iowa Council to reject that.
Jane Schreiber is in her seventh year as a leader for the Boy Scouts' Venturing Program. Her son, now 24, is an Eagle Scout and her daughter has participated in the co-ed Venturing Program.
Schreiber signed the online petition.
"I don't think it is fair to discriminate against them just because of their sexual orientation," she explained in person Monday afternoon. "I don't like the policy myself because it's not all-inclusive. I don't think it makes it any easier for us to be able to teach our scouts tolerance and respect for each other."
At the Northeast Iowa Council's headquarters in Dubuque County, executive director Scott Seibert said the council has to follow the national policy.
"There's certain qualifications that we have to do in order to be a Boy Scout council, and when we don't adhere to those policies, we're at risk for losing that charter," he said.
Loss of the charter could leave some 4,000 young people in northeast Iowa without a program, Seibert said, "and our board is not willing at this time to risk that."
Still, some say, perhaps there's middle ground.
"Even if the council were to just openly disagree with it, that would be a good start," Schreiber said.
There are no repercussions for leaders and individuals who speak out against the policy, Seibert said.
Petition organizers want 1,000 signatures. Seibert said he would present that to the board and committee that govern the council but wouldn't expect to see any results.
There's also a petition for the Hawkeye Area Council, which includes Cedar Rapids. According to Change.org, that one has a 100-signature goal and needed 67 to reach that as of Monday evening.
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