May 29, 2024

Boy Scouts Lose Philly Home

From the NY Times:

For three years the Philadelphia council of the Boy Scouts of America held its ground. It resisted the city’s request to change its discriminatory policy toward gay people despite threats that if it did not do so, the city would evict the group from a municipal building where the Scouts have resided practically rent free since 1928.

Municipal officials said the clash stemmed from a duty to defend civil rights and an obligation to abide by a local law that bars taxpayer support for any group that discriminates. Boy Scout officials said it was about preserving their culture, protecting the right of private organizations to remain exclusive and defending traditions like requiring members to swear an oath of duty to God and prohibiting membership by anyone who is openly homosexual.

This violates a fundamental principle on which the Scouts were founded and the organization refused to compromise in order to maintain a financial arrangement favorable to the group.

“Since we were founded, we believe that open homosexuality would be inconsistent with the values that we want to communicate with our leaders,” said Gregg Shields, national spokesman for the Boy Scouts. “A belief in God is also mentioned in the Scout oath. We believe that those values are important. Tradition is important. Our mission is to instill those values in scouts and help them make good choices over their lifetimes.

The Boy Scouts refused to compromise their values and for that I applaud them.  As in most stands we take on principle, there will be a price that the Boy Scouts have to pay:

This week the Boy Scouts made their last stand and lost.

“At the end of the day, you can not be in a city-owned facility being subsidized by the taxpayers and not have language in your lease that talks about nondiscrimination,” said City Councilman Darrell L. Clarke, who represents the district where the building is located. “Negotiations are over.”

Stacey Sobel, executive director of Equality Advocates Pennsylvania, a gay-rights advocacy group based in Philadelphia, said: “Allowing the Boy Scouts to use this building rent free sends a message that the city approves of their policy. We are not looking to kick the Boy Scouts out. We just want them to play by the same rules as everyone else in the city.”

In my opinion, this last sentence is untrue.  What Sobel and other gay advocates really want is for the Boy Scouts to be forced to give in to financial pressure and surrender unconditionally in the form of accepting gay troop leaders and members.  Hopefully this will never happen. 

Ironically, and not surprisingly, it’s the children, the Scouts themselves, who will be the ultimate loser in this fight:

The Boy Scouts erected the ornate building and since 1928 have leased the land from the city for a token sum of $1 a year. City officials said the market value for renting the building was about $200,000 a year, and they invited the Boy Scouts to remain as full-paying tenants.

Jeff Jubelirer, a spokesman for the local chapter, said it could not afford $200,000 a year in rent, and that such a price would require it to cut summer-camp funds for 800 needy children.

“With an epidemic of gun violence taking the lives of children almost daily in this city, it’s ironic that this administration chose to destroy programming that services thousands of children in the city,” Mr. Jubelirer said. He added that the organization serves more than 69,000 young people, mostly from the inner city, and that its programming focuses on mentoring and after-school programs instead of camping trips.

Such is the price of  trying to please everyone.


Marc is a software developer, writer, and part-time political know-it-all who currently resides in Texas in the good ol' U.S.A.

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