The Ogden chapter of the YWCA will meet in July to come up with a new name and bylaws after learning Sunday that its affiliation with the national organization has been officially terminated.
The Ogden Northern Utah YWCA lost its affiliation with the national organization in February when it voted to allow men to join the organization. But the Ogden chapter was hoping the national organization would reconsider its decision at its national convention Sunday.
Instead, the national organization voted to retain its all-female status. National YWCA President Glendora Putnam said the Ogden chapter, which became the first in the country to lose its affiliation for allowing men to join as full members, would be allowed to reconsider its decision to admit men. If the Ogden chapter returns to its all-female status, it can be readmitted to the national organization.
But the Ogden chapter won't do that.
"We are still unanimous in our conviction that we want to be an organization that does not discriminate by sex," said Gaye D. Littleton, executive director of the Ogden Northern Utah YWCA. "We want to work with women and men together to serve our community. Our board unanimously stands behind the decision we made in February to open up our membership to men."
The national YWCA has been an all-female organization for 130 years.
The national office has told the Ogden chapter it must stop using the YWCA name and logo and to notify state and charitable organizations that it is no longer affiliated with the national organization.
"The only thing they can really do to us is take that name away," Littleton said. "Our board has a committee working on a name. If at all possible, we plan to keep the `Y' in our name. We've been known as `The Y' for 45 years."
The committee is scouting for a formal name that still encourages the nickname, "the Y." The current name of choice is YCC. The letters stand for Your Community Connection.
"That's the name receiving top consideration," Littleton said.
At the five-day national meeting, an estimated 1,200 delegates from local chapters across the country voted overwhelmingly to continue to exclude men as full voting members, Putnam said.
"It is now more important than ever that the YWCA remain an autonomous women's membership movement because of the serious challenges which confront women in the areas of employment, housing, child-care and poverty," she said.
"The YWCA's position is an affirmative response to inequity and disparity which continue to be the rule rather than the exception," she said.
The Young Women's Christian Association in the United States was founded in 1858 as an organization exclusively for women, partly to address the problems of housing, poverty-level wages and educational opportunities for young women who flocked to cities during the Industrial Revolution.
"The fundamental focus of our organization has been the same . . . the empowerment of women and girls . . . making them more in control of their lives," Putnam said.
Although recent court decisions have forced several formerly all-male groups to admit women, Putnam said she does not consider the YWCA policy discriminatory.
"The problems are not the same," she said. "The way the court has been defining `discrimination"' is in the sense that "women should not be kept out of places . . . where business is discussed."
"We're not a marketplace issue. We don't come to the YWCA to discuss business," Putnam said.
Rather, the YWCA offers services aimed solely at women, such as child-care, programs for battered women and fitness classes, she said.
"Women need a place where they can be comfortable expressing their problems, their fears, the way they face the world. They need to discuss it with other women," she said.