Summersgill challenges Boy Scouts' Human Rights compliance
Director, DC United Way
95 M Street, SW Suite 211
Washington, DC 20024-3640
Dear Ms. Lanham-Tracy:
Thank you very much for your detailed and timely response to our queries concerning DC United Way funding of the National Capital Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
In terms of the United Way's anti-discrimination policy, you noted: All organizations applying to be listed in the UW Campaign must certify that they observe a policy and practice of non-discrimination and are in compliance with their local human rights office before they are deemed eligible.
To quote from the preamble of the DC Human Rights Law: It is the intent of the Council of the District of Columbia, in enacting this chapter, to secure an end in the District of Columbia to discrimination for any reason other than that of individual merit, including, but not limited to, discrimination by reason of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, disability, source of income, and place of residence or business.
The National Council of the BSA has a very public policy of discrimination. The BSA recently went to the Supreme Court to argue its right to discriminate, as a "private club," on the basis of sexual orientation. The BSA has also gone to court to argue its right to discriminate on the basis of religion. While they have won this right, such also makes them ineligible to be listed in the DC UW Campaign according to your stated policy.
Not only does BSA have a policy of discrimination, it has an active practice of discrimination. There have been numerous publicized incidents of the BSA expelling gay scout leaders and scouts, as well as prohibiting atheists from joining the organization. There have also been publicized incidents of paid employees being fired on the basis of sexual orientation, most recently this month when Executive Director Len Lazi of Santa Barbara was fired following a statement to the County Board that he was gay.
The National Capital Area BSA Council thus appears to have falsely certified that it has "a practice and policy of nondiscrimination."
While all Area Councils are required to follow National Council policy, at least one BSA Area Council, Piedmont in California, has publicly stated it does not follow the National Council's policy of discrimination. It is our view that the National Capital Area BSA must make such a statement if it is to be eligible to be listed in the UW Campaign, in accordance with your stated policy. Otherwise, it does not appear the National Capital Area BSA is eligible to receive funding through an organization such as yours which has committed itself to nondiscrimination.
Bob Summersgill, President
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C.