The Gold Ochs Academy is taking a stand for the rights of gays and lesbians. According to a report on the New Jersey Jewish News website, the conservative Jewish day school in West Orange will not renew its Boy Scouts charter for 2013 because of the organization’s policy to ban gays and lesbians from their group.
The school has acted as charter organization for Boy Scout Troop 118, started in 1995, and Boy Scout Pack 118 for younger boys, which began a few years earlier.
After a confidential, two-year review, the Boy Scouts reaffirmed their ban on gays and lesbians in July, citing support from most scout members and their families. The Scouts’ national spokesman, Deron Smith, told The Associated Press at the time that the decision “is absolutely the best policy” for the 102-year-old organization.
The NJJN reports that head of school Joyce Raynor wrote in a letter to parents, dated Oct. 17, “[T]he scouts represent a problematic image for many families.” She also said the policy of the BSA “to exclude same-sex families from membership and adult volunteerism is in direct contradiction of School policies, which place high value on inclusion […] It has been decided that GOA cannot act as the sponsor organization until that national policy changes.”
The article also notes that “Scout master Mike Schatzberg and assistant Scout master Rabbi Lisa Vernon, who head up Troop 118 and Pack 118, were not critical of the school’s decision. GOA leaders ‘have been above board with us the whole time and told us they were seriously considering this step,’” said Vernon. In an interview, both referred to BSA’s policy toward homosexuals as “terrible” and “egregious.”