Updated 08/08/2012 07:08 PM
Controversy over location of county youth bureau retreat
A Binghamton city official is boycotting an upcoming retreat for youth leaders throughout the community. At issue is not the program itself, but where it's being held. Our Melissa Kakareka explains.
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BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- The Executive Director of the Broome County Youth Bureau received a letter Tuesday night. It was from Binghamton's Youth Director Colleen Wagner.
In it, Wagner stated that she would not be participating in the youth bureau's upcoming retreat for its board members at Camp Tuscarora in Windsor.
"The city is very passionate about equality for all. I did not in good conscience feel that I could attend a retreat there, I feel very passionate about the youth, especially those that are at risk, so it just wasn't a good idea for me to be there," said Binghamton Youth Bureau Director Colleen Wagner.
The Boy Scouts offered the county's youth bureau the use of the campgrounds free of charge.
"We are there to learn how to be better board members and we've brought people from the Office of Child and Family Services from the state to teach them what to do as board members and plan for the future," said Broome County Youth Bureau Director Arthur Garrsion.
But Wagner opposes the location because of the Boy Scouts recently reaffirmed policy of barring gays from membership and leadership positions.
"The Boy Scouts of America have a rich legacy and have done and they've done a lot for youth, but not all youth, and that's who I'm here to represent," said Wagner.
Officials from the County Youth Bureau say that Wagner never voiced any opposition to the location at previous meetings and says no other board members have expressed concerns about the location.
"We take in everyone's concerns, if someone was concerned about a location or a time, we would take that into account. We want to get the best attendance at these things," said Garrison.
Currently, there are no plans to move the retreat from its location.