The Ogden YWCA has been disaffiliated from the national group because local members voted last month to allow men full membership, officials say.
"As you are aware, this action does not conform to the constitution of the YWCA of the USA," said a letter sent to the Ogden chapter this week. "Therefore, the National Board must disaffiliate the YWCA of Ogden-Northern Utah from the YWCA of the USA."Gaye Littleton, Ogden chapter director, said she was shocked that the group was "disaffiliated with so little dialogue."
She said the national YWCA office in New York City made only one phone call to her about the action, and then only to ask for written confirmation that the action to allow men membership had taken place.
Littleton has said since the vote allowing men full membership that she knew it could mean disaffiliation with the national YWCA. She also has said the action probably would not hurt the Ogden chapter, which receives no funding from the national organization.
The letter of disaffiliation tells Littleton that the Ogden chapter may no longer use the name or symbols of the YWCA. It also instructs her to notify the Utah secretary of state and attorney general, the Internal Revenue Service and the local chapter of the United Way.
Littleton and other YWCA officers have said the change to allow men was to make the branch's operations more equitable. Other local service clubs and agencies have changed to allow members of both sexes, they said, so the YWCA should do so as well.
Littleton also has stressed that nearly all the YWCA's services in Ogden, except the women's crisis shelter, serve both sexes.
Lillian Kimura, associate executive director of the YWCA in New York, said the national YWCA's decision cannot be compared to a recent Supreme Court decision that opened the doors to women joining formerly all-male Rotary Clubs.
"It is not comparable," she said. "Men have not been discriminated against. Women have always been discriminated against.
"Part of it (excluding men from the YWCA) is the socialization of wom-en to defer to men," Kimura said. "That's part of our upbringing. It makes it difficult for women to really be themselves. We're a national movement in some ways. We have to look at the totality of it all. We need to provide (women members) with opportunities where they can have these experiences without cramping their style."