Boy Scout Controversy Going to Court

philly_scouts_0529In what’s been an extremely long, awful story, the flap between the city of Philadelphia and the local boy scouts will likely go to court next week. It’s a case in which no one will win, in spite of the legal outcome.

Here’s the basis of the situation, according to the Inky:

At issue is whether the city must continue to provide the Scouts with rent-free occupancy of a 1928 Beaux Arts building it owns at 22nd and Winter streets near the Parkway. (Cradle pays the city $1 annually to lease the property.)

The Boy Scouts of America Inc. bars anyone who is openly gay from being a member – which violates a 1982 city ordinance banning discrimination based upon sexual orientation, the city said.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that because the Boy Scouts is a private group, it has a constitutional right to associate with whomever it wants and government cannot interfere with it.

The city contends that doesn’t mean it must subsidize the rent of any organization that discriminates.

As city officials were preparing to file suit in state court in early June 2008 to boot Cradle of Liberty or get it to agree to pay $200,000 in annual rent, Cradle pre-empted the city and sued it in federal court in May 2008.

Cradle alleged that the city breached its rights to freely associate and be afforded equal protection to other similarly situated organizations.

The city seeks $333,000 in damages, the rent it claims Cradle owes since June 2, 2008.

And here’s the problem: The local Boy Scout Chapter, Cradle of Liberty Council, said it’d change its policies regarding homosexual membership if the Boy Scouts of America changed its policy – and that isn’t some cheap excuse, either. Cradle of Liberty began admitting homosexuals in 2003, though after this, the Scouts’ national office sent Cradle of Liberty a cease-and-desist letter, threatening dissolution. Afterwards, the local chapter had no choice but to again ban homosexuals.

The local scout chapter, therefore, is stuck in a corner. And so is most of the reporting on the ordeal, which paint this as an us-against-them city issue. Case in point:

Writing for extreme right wing site World Net Daily in 2006, Hans Zeiger said, “Drug-related gang violence plagues the streets of the City of Brotherly Love. But one of the most outrageous attacks comes from the office of Philadelphia Mayor John Street. It is aimed at the Boy Scouts…”

Left wing media watch Newshounds has said of the issue: “The harmonious trio on FOX and Friends this morning 10/19/07 were (surprise!) in agreement that the Boy Scouts in Philadelphia are being wronged by the City, who has requested that they either amend their non-discrimination policy, or pay a fair market value for the city property that they currently rent for $1/year. That would be a rent increase, should they choose to not comply, of $199,999.00/year.”

Truth is, policy prevents both the city of Philadelphia as well as the local scouts from compromise. What this comes down to is national scout policy.

So while the city is correct in its anti-discrimination policy, what really needs to happen is a federal anti-discrimination law, similar to the abolishing of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” in the military (this is probably against Scouts’ honor or something, but still…). The federal government needs to force the Boy Scouts of America to allow homosexuals to become leaders, or at least allow local chapters to base their policies around local laws. If stubbornness is the only outcome, and discrimination is the only choice, the national scouts should pay rent to the city.

10 Responses to “ Boy Scout Controversy Going to Court ”

  1. ThomasT says:

    Sorry, no. The Supreme Court decision was correct, and should not be revisited by Congress. The BSA went to the mat for their right to discriminate, and while I hate them for it, am embarrassed to have ever been a Scout and Scout leader, and will never permit my son to associate with this organization that mandates bigotry from the top, the BSA has the right to make itself a pariah. Any anti-discrimination legislation would not apply to them anyway, unless it went beyond the “public accommodation” standard set by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which would be a legal and enforcement disaster. The Boy Scouts also discriminate on the basis of (lack of) religion – which they should also be permitted to do. Only employment, not membership or volunteer leadership would likely be covered by any reasonable federal anti-discrimination legislation.

    One complicating factor that you failed to mention is the physical improvements of the leased land – I believe that the building was built by the Boy Scouts, but deeded to the city. So either the City should buy the building that sits on its land, the Scouts should buy the land from the City, or the Scouts should pay market rent for the land – perhaps at a slowly graduated scale that would lead to the city “paying” for the building by forgoing a certain amount of rent. But a discriminatory organization must not receive government-subsidized real estate.

  2. John K. says:

    I agree with Thomast. Congress not only shouldn’t revisit the Supreme Court decision, but it really CANNOT do so without a federal constitutional amendment, which would be absurd to even think about. I am glad to hear that Cradle of Liberty attempted to change its policy, but the national Scouts policy is no excuse for them changing it back. While I understand why a local chapter would decline to stand up to its national organization, the local chapter absolutely does not get a free pass from the city for giving in. The city can and must put pressure on them to put pressure on the national organization. Maybe if more cities put pressure on their local organizations like this, those local organizations would have a better chance to affect the national policy. Perhaps its unreasonable to think the local organization should break off from the national one so it can institute its own non-discrimination policy, but I guess money talks. Well, money is no excuse for discrimination. The ball is in Cradle of Liberty’s court on this one.

  3. Greg Lindquist says:

    As a parent, I do not look at this issue as discrimination against homosexuals. I look at it as protection of my 16 year old son (Scout). If an 18 year old openly and active homosexual male was allowed to be a volunteer in the BSA, I believe that my son could be in danger of being approached by an older homosexual, who most likely according to every sex study will tell you he had his first homosexual encounter with an older loving male showing him the ways of an alternate lifestyle.
    This Dad does not want to put my son in that position and I fully back the national policy of the BSA and do believe that a homosexual lifestyle is in violation of the 11th point of the Scout Law: CLEAN!

  4. Phoena says:

    Greg, do you keep your son locked in his room? Because I hate to break it to you, but there might be 18-year-old homosexual men just about anywhere he goes. If you think Boy Scouts is the only place he might find a boyfriend, you’re wrong. If your son wants a boyfriend, he’ll find one, even if he’s not in Boy Scouts. Meanwhile, in two years he’ll be an adult and out from under your thumb and he’ll be able to date anyone he pleases without your control-freak tendencies. Good luck to him!

  5. Nick says:

    To Greg, what study shows that homosexuals are more likely to have their first encounter with an older homosexual? I have a habit of looking at studies concerning homosexual activity, as this has become a hot button issue, and most studies never prove anything of the sort, save for the ones that have been proven to have “tampered” results. The Boy Scouts have every right to keep anyone they want out of their group, but they will have to pay for services just like other private groups.

    By the way, if your son goes to public school, he has a good chance of being around homosexuals. If you are really afraid, you might want to home school him.

  6. Dan says:


    The church is FILLED with older homosexuals who prey on young boys. I’m sure you could count more of those incidents than you could count from the BSA.

    But both hate certain kinds of humans. Both try to ban homosexuality. Yet, the same leaders who ban homosexuality in churches are the ones committing the homosexual acts.

    So all I’m saying is, just like Phoena when he (she?) says homosexuals could be anywhere your son goes, and just like Nick when he says homosexuals are in public schools…. homosexuals are also in the Church. So pull your son out of that too.

    I’m sure that if he actually turns out gay, he’ll be most pleased to hear you spent his growing years keeping him from other boys like him, rather than supporting him however he turns out because he’s your son.

    No, you don’t sound like a horrible dad at all!

  7. Alessandra says:

    Greg, way to go! The only thing liberals do is to lie about every single case and every problem of harassment, exploitation, abuse ever carried out by homosexuals, even more so if the victim is heterosexual.

    Case in point: the responders’ twist in the framing of your concern of an exploitative type of sexual approach to your son “finding a boyfriend.”

  8. [...] now, you should know the story: the city of Philadelphia wanted the BSA’s Philly chapter to comply with the city’s [...]

  9. Ren says:

    The Boy Scouts is no place for “sex education” – Cub Scouts range in age from 7 to 11 years old. Do you think such are ready to learn the use of condom?

    The “anti-gay” policy is not really “anti-gay” at all – it’s a matter of setting a standard for acceptable public conduct. When would it *ever* be acceptable for any adult leader to openly discuss sex, or have “public displays of affection”. It’s not acceptable behaviour for heterosexuals, and it’s not acceptable for homosexuals.

    And aside from talking about sex, how does being homosexual v. heterosexual even come up at a scout meeting?

    The Boy Scouts is not a proper venue for sex education, especially as it emphasizes the “Patrol Method” to educate the Scouts – Older boys teaching younger boys.

    Is it ever appropriate for a 16-yr-old to be teaching an 11-yr-old about sex? I don’t think so.

  10. Chaos says:

    @ Ren, So you think it’s more appropriate that a 40 year old be teaching that 11 year old? Cuz thats what happens in sex ed in school. Old embarrassed people teaching clinical terms mixed in with a vibe of “You’re too young!! Just don’t do it!!” That’ll totally work out for the best right?

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