- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 1, 2002

The nation's premier mentoring agency has begun enforcing a policy that bans its affiliates from discriminating against prospective volunteers based on their sexual orientation or ethnicity, a move Christian groups say mandates the hiring of homosexuals to counsel young boys.
Officials for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America said the nondiscrimination policy has been on the books for 25 years but hadn't been enforced against its 490 autonomous local affiliates until now.
Enforcement of the policy has drawn criticism from Christian groups who say homosexual men should not mentor boys for the same reason adult men do not mentor girls: the potential for sexual attraction can lead to abuse.
"Under the new policy, impressionable young boys with no strong gender role models could be assigned to active homosexuals at school without the knowledge of parents," said William J. Maier, a child and family psychologist in residence at the Colorado-based Focus on the Family. "We're looking at lifestyle indoctrination that puts kids at risk and usurps parental authority."
Protestant author and Focus on the Family founder James Dobson in July publicly rescinded an endorsement of BBBS from his best-selling book "Bringing Up Boys," and the Owensboro, Ky., affiliate has already dropped out over the policy's sexual-orientation clause.
National office spokeswoman Noreen Shanfelter said the rigorous BBBS screening process is meant to ensure the well-being of BBBS "little brothers" and "little sisters," although "nothing absolutely guarantees that."
"It is possible [a homosexual] could be assigned to a child at school without the parent's knowledge, in some cases," said Miss Shanfelter.
"The assertion that we're forcing agencies to match active homosexuals with little brothers is absolutely false," she said of the new policy that took affect July 1. "The policy hasn't been tested yet."
The most well-known BBBS programs are community-based, where single parents are contacted by the local affiliate to sign off on mentors who then take their children to ball games, camping trips and other events.
BBBS also runs public school-based programs, in which parents never meet the affiliate-selected mentors who tutor and befriend their children during school hours.

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