Debate Magazine

California Going After Boy Scouts

Posted on the 29 August 2013 by Eowyn @DrEowyn

boy scouts

Fox: California lawmakers are cruising toward a final vote on a bill that could  threaten the tax-exempt status of American-as-apple-pie groupsranging from the Boy Scouts to Little League — if their membership policies are found to be discriminatory.

If passed, the bill, SB 323, would remove an exemption from state taxes for  any nonprofit youth group that discriminates on the basis of “gender identity,  race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or religious affiliation.”  Well-known organizations like Girl Scouts of the USA, Boy Scouts of America, and  Little League International Baseball and Softball were cited in the bill, which  was introduced in February by Democratic state Sen. Ricardo Lara.

Lawmakers are not accusing groups like Little League and the Girl Scouts of  having discriminatory policies. The bill appears to be aimed more at the Boy  Scouts, as Lara pushed the legislation on the heels of the controversy  surrounding the Boy Scouts’ policy to exclude gay, lesbian, bisexual and  transgender people as scouts or adult leaders. The national organization later  voted to allow gay youth membership, but maintained its ban on openly gay adult  leaders.

Lara told reporters earlier this month that the Boy Scouts’ decision was not good enough for him, and continued to push the bill.

Youth groups say they hope they won’t be affected. Brian McClintock, a Little  League International spokesman, told on Wednesday that the group already does not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, marital status, gender, sexual orientation or  disability.

“In order to be an officially chartered Little League, any local organization  must adhere to this policy for all players and volunteers,” McClintock wrote in  an email.

Joshua Ackley, a Girl Scouts spokesman, echoed McClintock, saying the group values “diversity and inclusiveness” among its 3.2 million youth and adult  members.

“While Girl Scouts of the USA does not comment on legislation, we value  diversity and inclusiveness, and our membership is representative of our diverse  communities,” Ackley wrote. “Girl Scout membership does not discriminate on any  basis, including race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”

The bill cites more than 20 groups, including the Boy Scouts of America and  Little League International Baseball and Softball, as examples of organizations that could be affected by the legislation if passed.

Lara could not be reached for comment early Wednesday.

“Our state values the important role that youth groups play in the  empowerment of our next generation; this is demonstrated by rewarding  organizations with tax exemptions supported financially by all Californians,”  Lara said in a February statement. “SB 323 seeks to end the unfortunate  discriminatory and outdated practices by certain youth groups by revoking their tax exemption privilege should they not comply with non-discrimination  laws.”

The bill, which passed both the Assembly Tax and Revenue and Judiciary  committees earlier this month, could see a final vote as early as this week. In  June, the bill received a two-thirds vote in the Senate, the first time an  LGBT-themed bill reached such a threshold in the state’s history, according to  Equality California.

“California does not tolerate discrimination and we certainly shouldn’t pay  for it,” Equality California Executive Director John O’Connor said in a  statement. “Organizations that discriminate against a young person or leader  because of who they are or who they love should be sent a clear message –  discrimination has a real cost!”

Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America, declined to  specifically address the legislation in a statement to

“The focus of our 23 local Boy Scouts councils across the state of California  is to deliver the Scouting program to more than 180,000 youth, many of whom are  disadvantaged and at risk,” the statement read. “Scouting gives young people the  opportunity to develop skills and take responsibility while inspiring a lifetime  of character and service.”

What’s next, targeting churches? Maybe that will be good enough for Sen. Lara.


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