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Both conservative and liberal groups continued to claim victory last week as final results were tallied in New York City's 32 community school board elections.

The Christian Coalition, a group led by the Rev. Pat Robertson, asserted that 51 percent of the 130 candidates it deemed "pro-family'' won seats on local boards.

"This election lays to rest, once and for all, the myth that pro-family candidates are 'stealth candidates' who hide their views,'' Ralph Reed, the executive director of the Christian Coalition, said.

"Many of the candidates ran proudly as conservative Christians and were elected because of their views,'' Mr. Reed said.

But Barbara S. Handman, the New York director of the liberal advocacy group People for the American Way, last week maintained that most of the winning Christian Coalition-backed candidates had run as unchallenged incumbents.

"When Christian Coalition-backed candidates were challenged they generally lost,'' Ms. Handman said. (See Education Week, May 26, 1993.)

A federal appeals court in Chicago has upheld a lower-court decision that civil-rights law does not preclude the Boy Scouts of America from turning away potential members who refuse to pledge a "duty to God.''

Title II of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, which applies to such entities as hotels, restaurants, and stores, does not apply to the Boy Scout organization "because it is not an 'establishment' that 'serves the public,' and thus is not a 'place of public accommodation,''' according to last month's 2-to-1 majority opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

The Boy Scouts also falls under the exclusion for private clubs, the court found.

The ruling was a defeat for Elliott Welsh of Hinsdale, Ill., who in 1989 filed a lawsuit against the Scouts on behalf of his son Mark, now 10, who wanted to join the Tiger Cubs.

The Welshes, who are agnostics, objected to the Scout oath's pledge of a "duty to God.'' (See Education Week, March 25, 1992.)

Richard Grossman, the Welshes' lawyer, said the ruling was "wrongly decided'' because the court failed to apply the civil-rights statute broadly. His clients have not decided whether to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, he said.

Blake Lewis, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America, said his organization was pleased with the ruling.

A conservative bloc on the Meridian, Idaho, school board strengthened its hold in local elections last month, despite the attempts of community groups to unseat some of the five members.

A record number of voters turned out for board elections in the Boise suburb, which in the last year has experienced clashes between parents, students, and school officials over sex education and the place of social issues in the classroom.

Late last year, three teachers were suspended by the board for several days for allowing lesbian parents to speak to a group of high school students. (See Education Week, Feb. 10, 1993.) The incident splintered the community and prompted two large parent organizations on either side of the issue to focus on the board elections.

One of the groups, Voices for Education, which supported the teachers, opposed the re-election of the board's current chairman, Steve Givens, whom the group deems too conservative for the community.

And the leaders of the Idaho Citizens Alliance, which is drafting an anti-gay-rights initiative similar to one that was rejected by Oregon voters last year, praised one candidate, Greg Riddlemoser, for formally endorsing their proposal during his campaign.

The race culminated with victories for two conservative incumbents, Mr. Givens and Jim Keller, as well as two new conservative members, Mr. Riddlemoser and David Bills. Wally Hedrick, a moderate incumbent, was narrowly returned to office.

Vol. 12, Issue 36

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