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Boy Scouts' About-Face Is Hailed as a Step Forward

Newsmakers

February 14, 1988|DAVE JOHNSON

--The national executive board of the Boy Scouts of America voted to allow women to be scoutmasters, delighting those who fought the male-only leadership policy in court. A Scout spokesman said the rule was dropped, even though it had withstood legal challenges for 12 years, because the court battles had become too expensive. "It has cost the organization millions of dollars to defend a position that makes common sense," said Ron Phillippo, a Scout official in Minnesota. Many positions already were open to women, said Barclay Bollas, national news editor for the Scouts. "There was never a question of the ability of women. It was just that the Boy Scouts felt there ought to be male role models for boys." Catherine Pollard, 69, a Milford, Conn., grandmother who had so far lost her legal battle to be a scoutmaster, hailed the about-face. "I am very, very pleased that something wrong has been righted," Pollard said. "Right off hand, I'll say, 'Yippee!' " Pollard had run a Milford troop more than a year in the 1970s because no men volunteered. Her application for scoutmaster status was denied, however, and the troop disbanded, she said. "It is a victory for all scouts from single-parent families," said Phyllis Gibson, a divorced mother in Goleta, Calif., who had to cancel a camping trip for her sons' troop last year because the male-only rule kept her from serving as a supervisor.

--Britain's Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes heads for Canada this week to set up camp for an attempt to be the first to walk unaided to the North Pole. He and two companions, Oliver Shepard and Mike Stroud, plan to set out about March 10 with no machines and no dogs on the Great British Polar Quest--500 miles of pulling 360-pound sleds laden with supplies for the 60- to 75-day trip. Two summers ago, Stroud and Fiennes tried a similar walk to the pole but were stopped by weather-related ailments after reaching 8 miles farther than any other attempt.

--Fire early Saturday gutted the former High School for the Performing Arts in Manhattan and slightly injured 30 firefighters among the more than 200 who battled the blaze for more than five hours. The school was the basis for the movie and television series "Fame" and counted among its successful students Al Pacino, Liza Minnelli, Eartha Kitt, Suzanne Pleshette and Ben Vereen.

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