Boy Scouts shouldn't be able to meet in Boulder's public schools at discounted rates because they openly discriminate against gays, according to the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Johanna Blumenthal, of the Boulder County ACLU, sent a letter Monday to officials with the Boulder Valley School District arguing that the Boy Scouts are a discriminatory group because they have openly defended the right to exclude homosexuals from membership.
The ACLU raised the same concern in 2001 but is now backing its argument with a recent Supreme Court ruling. The ACLU is asking the district to change its policies so that groups using school buildings at discounted rates must comply with district policies.
One of those rules prohibits interfering with a student's opportunities or benefits on the basis of the individual's "race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, age, disability or religion."
The district's current policy does not require the Boy Scouts, or other groups using school buildings, to comply with the district's policies to receive reduced rental rates. The school district, though, "reserves the right" to deny use of a building for any activity that violates its rules.
"We again pose the question to the BVSD Board of Education: Is it the policy of the District to subsidize a youth organization that openly discriminates based on sexual orientation?," the letter from Blumenthal says.
She said in an interview that she believes the Boy Scouts should be able to meet in school buildings like any other group -- but shouldn't receive perks such as discounted rates.
District spokeswoman Maela Moore said Boy Scouts often hold meetings in Boulder Valley schools.
"We have scouts meeting at many of our elementary schools," she said.
The Boy Scouts pay the standard $14 an hour to rent spaces such as school cafeterias for their large monthly meetings. But for smaller, weekly meetings the scouts get a reduced rate -- paying $40 a year.
The ACLU is citing the Supreme Court's ruling in a case involving the Christian Legal Society.
Hastings College of Law denied official recognition of the CLS because it violated the school's nondiscrimination policy by not allowing anyone who engages in "unrepented homosexual conduct" to join the student group. The Christian Legal Society filed a lawsuit, claiming its First Amendment rights had been violated.
The Supreme Court disagreed in its June 28 decision. The court found that while all organizations may be granted access and discriminate in membership, it's within the legal parameters of the school to deny official recognition to organizations that don't follow school policies.
Nicole Cosme, marketing director for the Boy Scouts of America Denver Area Council, provided the following written statement to the ACLU's letter: "The BSA will continue to strengthen common interests, while respecting differences, and will focus on its mission and on reaching as many youth as possible in order to help them grow into good, strong citizens."
Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1132 or email@example.com.