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San Francisco Boots JROTC Programs

November 15, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ High schools across the city soon will no longer have Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs after officials decided to eliminate them because of the Pentagon’s ``don’t ask, don’t tell″ policy regarding gay service members.

The Board of Education voted 4-2 late Tuesday to phase out the JROTC from schools over the next two years, despite protest from hundreds of students who rallied outside the meeting.

The resolution passed says the military’s ban on openly gay soldiers violates the school district’s equal rights policy for gays.

The school district and the military currently share the $1.6 million annual cost of the program. About 1,600 San Francisco students participate in JROTC at seven high schools across the district.

Cadets and instructors who spoke at the meeting and rallied outside argued that the program teaches leadership, organizational skills, personal responsibility and other important values.

``This is where the kids feel safe, the one place they feel safe,″ said Robert Powell, a JROTC instructor. ``You’re going to take that away from them?″

Mayor Gavin Newsom called severing ties with the JROTC ``a bad idea″ that penalized students without having any practical effect on the Pentagon’s policy on gays in the military.

``If people want to participate in it and their families want them to participate, I think they have a right to participate without putting them in the political peril of being in this ideological debate,″ he said.

Lt. Cmdr. Joe Carpenter, a Pentagon spokesman, has said he didn’t know of any other school district having barred JROTC from its campuses.

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