Skip to comments.New scout group covered by old ruling
Posted on 04/22/2003 9:38:09 AM PDT by RonF
A spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America said the new Venturing Crew 911, a youth program sponsored by the Centre County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue, is subject to the same exclusionary practices as the Boy Scouts. The Venturing Crew 911 is for young men and women between the ages of 14 and 20 years old who have an interest in search and rescue and law enforcement.
However, Centre County Sheriff Denny Nau said his office does not "discriminate against anybody or anything." Nau said he supported the Crew, but said it is technically associated with Centre Search and Rescue -- a private organization -- and members and leaders of the Crew would not be asked their religious views or their sexual preference. "We don't care," Nau said. "If you're hanging on the edge of a cliff, you don't care who's coming to get you." Nau added he is proud of his association with the Boy Scouts.
But Brian Westley, who describes himself as an atheist, said not asking a person's religious views or sexual preference doesn't mean a person could not be excluded from membership. Westley pointed to the case of James Dale, a then 19-year-old Eagle Scout with 33 merit badges.
But the marriage of the Scouts and government institutions brings into question the constitutionality of discrimination by those institutions chartering those groups, Westley said. "The sheriff's office can't say gays and atheists aren't good role models," Westley said. "The sheriff's office is not a private institution." Westley suggested that the sheriff's office instead sponsor an Explorers Post, a Boy Scouts group that does not discriminate against homosexuals and atheists.
He said the Venturing Crew serves like an apprenticeship for young people It is not legal or fair for the Centre County sheriff's office to discriminate on behalf of the Boy Scouts, he added. In 1998, the city of Chicago settled out of court with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and stopped supporting all Boy Scouts programs.
But Nau said there are Venturing Crews and other Boy Scouts groups chartered by government organizations across the country, which includes schools and military institutions.
"If I'm in trouble, I guess there's a whole mess of us in trouble," Nau said. "It's not like I'm the Lone Ranger trying to stir up the atheists." Westley likens the Boy Scouts groups chartered by government agencies as "a thousand different fires" that need to be extinguished. But Westley added no one seems to care about the issue and court cases are usually settled out of court with governments simply pulling the plug on their support of Boy Scouts groups. This prevents a landmark decision concerning the constitutionality of government working closely with a group that practices discrimination, Westley said.
(Excerpt) Read more at collegian.psu.edu ...
Were the Sheriff's office actually sponsoring this unit, they'd have to do it as an Explorer Post. But they're not, so this Crew can operate as they do. There's no rule or law against a government agency cooperating with a discriminatory group, just chartering/running it.
If he wants to challenge this successfully, he'll have to show that the Centre County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue is actually a public agency, not a private organization. I have to admit that the title makes the organization sound like a public agency, but what are the facts?
Why do the Scouts fall into these traps?
They already know they are being watched by thousands of