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YMCA Members Shut Out

"Uninvited" to meeting to air grievances

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Two members of the Harris YMCA who are upset over the availability of a far-right magazine at the facility say they are being shut out of an upcoming meeting that the two had been told they could attend and voice their concerns.

In early July, CL reported that Harris Y members Page Lee and Kristin Rogentine-Lee (no relation) met with the YMCA's district vice president, Mike Bachman, to discuss their objections to the publication Focus on the Family (FOF). The magazine is published by a ministry of the same name led by Dr. James Dobson, a leader among the religious right. The women argued it's inappropriate to distribute the magazine at the YMCA where many do not share Dobson's views, especially since membership dues are used to pay for the publication.

Bachman said he would forward their concerns to the YMCA's Christian Emphasis Committee, which is scheduled to review the issue and make recommendations in August. Both women were told they could attend the meeting and address the committee in person. But Rogentine-Lee says when she contacted Bachman last week to get specifics on the meeting, he essentially uninvited them. "He (Bachman) said the committee decided not to have us present, but that they'd refer to Page's e-mail (a detailed outline of their objections). I asked him specifically when the meeting would be and he wouldn't tell me. I guess he thinks we're going to plan some kind of civil disobedience. Page and I are a bit outraged at being shut out like this."

Bachman told CL, "I met with the committee chair to review their concerns and letter and we concluded we could present this information to the committee. Overall, we felt that they had expressed their opinions clearly and we had a grasp of their concerns and feelings on the matter."

According to the Christian Emphasis Committee's web site, one of the committee's important tools is the Communication Board, where members can find information about upcoming events, a prayer box, as well as "Christian magazines put out by Focus on the Family Ministries."

"If they're going to distribute these magazines, they should be willing to confront people who are upset by them," says Lee. "I am disappointed that Bachman continues to refuse us contact with the committee. We have a right to talk face-to-face with the people writing these policies."

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