Golda Och Academy Bans the Scouts, Stands for Inclusion

“To exclude same-sex families from membership and adult volunteerism is in direct contradiction of school policies, which place high value on inclusion.”

-Donna Oshri, Golda Och Academy

Creating inclusive Jewish spaces is a great goal — but how do you do it? While the answer is likely different for every synagogue, school, and youth group, it’s helpful and encouraging to hear about others’ successes, triumphs, and their lessons learned. So we’re running this regular column, called “The Tachlis of Inclusion,” to spotlight practices and policies that have worked for Jewish institutions all over the country. We hope they inspire you. 

Photo Courtesy of GLAAD

His mom was removed as troop leader because she is a lesbian. (Courtesy of GLAAD.)

In October 2012, the administration of
Golda Och Academy
, a
 Jewish day school in New Jersey, sent
a letter home to parents
, letting them know that the school would not be renewing its Boy Scouts charter. The reason? The Boy Scouts of America’s decision to ban gay scouts and adult troop leaders.

“It was a very short meeting,” Adam Shapiro, Dean of Students at Golda Och Academy, remembers about the decision to end the school’s relationship with the local Boy Scout Troop. “Everyone on our administrative team looked at each other and said, this is pretty obvious. And since we made our decision, basically all of the feedback we’ve received has been positive.”

Golda Och Academy sponsored the Boy Scout Troop 118 and Cub Pack 118 and offered them a place to meet. But the Scouts’ policy of discrimination has made what had been an otherwise harmonious match untenable. “The Scouts and the school have enjoyed a wonderful relationship for many years,” said Donna Oshri, Director of Marketing at Golda Och. Donna continued: “The policy of the Boy Scouts of America to exclude same-sex families from membership and adult volunteerism is in direct contradiction of our school policies, which place high value on inclusion. Our school has decided that it cannot act as the sponsor organization until that national policy changes. Golda Och Academy has worked hard toward making all families feel welcome and comfortable. At this point in time, the scouts represent a problematic image for many families. This decision is based solely on ideology, and not as result of any biased action or exclusion on the part of the leadership of Troop 118 and Pack 118. Rabbi Lisa Vernon and Mike Schatzberg have been stellar leaders to the boys, scouting, and to the school, and we commend their unfailing commitment and leadership.”