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June 19, 2001 04:50pm
Conservatives Blast PBS for Film on Scouts' Gay Ban
Source: Gay.com / PlanetOut.com Network
by: Barbara Dozetos

Religious conservatives have mounted a protest against the national broadcast premier of a documentary chronicling struggles against the Boy Scout ban on openly gay members and leaders.

Tom Shepard's "Scout's Honor" debuts tonight on the PBS series "P.O.V.," and some conservative religious organizations have mobilized their members to contact local stations and ask to have the broadcast stopped.

"Let them know how you feel about the use of your taxpayer dollars for the production and dissemination of a one-sided 'hit piece' on the Boy Scouts of America -- a piece that says it is good for fathers to teach their children how to become homosexual activists," wrote Peter LaBarbera of the Culture and Family Institute (CFI), an affiliate of the Concerned Women of America (CWA). His call for action appears in the June 14 issue of CFI's Culture and Family Report.

He called the film "one-sided" and objects to the legitimacy given the subject through the support of PBS and financing from its affiliate Independent Television Service.

"Even though PBS is obviously biased, affiliation with public television gives a film an aura of truthfulness among the many Americans out there who enjoy its more serious programming," said a Maryland-based filmmaker quoted by LaBarbera. According to LaBarbera, the filmmaker "asked not to be identified for fear of blacklisting by pro-homosexual liberals in the industry."

The documentary's focus on Scouting For All's Steven Cozza's attempts to change the BSA policy is particularly disturbing to Guyla Mills of the Americans for Truth Project. The Cozza family's acceptance and support of gay rights, Mills told LaBarbera, set a sad example for the young heterosexual man whose fight against the scouting policy has made him a hero in gay circles. "It saddens me that the Cozzas have framed their son's entire childhood around homosexuality," she said. "Our hearts go out to this young man who began as almost a toddler attending gay pride parades, then before he was a teenager began taking on the Boy Scouts, and now has started a homosexual club [gay-straight alliance] in school."

In support of the film, Joan Garry, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (news - web sites), said, "'Scout's Honor' is a fair, accurate and inclusive look at the divisiveness caused by one organization's decision to discriminate. It's a story that informs and educates not only the LGBT community, but also the American public, advancing the cultural debate that has played out in the courts and in the media for a number of years."

The protests are reminiscent of the 1999 attack on the PBS airing of the award-winning "It's Elementary," a film about gay issues in schools, she said. "Local PBS affiliates know that the people calling on them to censor 'Scout's Honor' are merely parroting the arguments of anti-gay groups promoting their particular view of the Boy Scouts' policy," said Garry. "PBS and 'P.O.V.' should be applauded, not targeted, for their invaluable contribution to this debate."

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