Ruling in Pool and Geller v. BSA 06/21/01
Summersgill: Boy Scouts violates
United Way non-discrimination policy
Director, DC United Way
95 M Street, SW, Suite 211
Washington, DC 20024-3640
Dear Ms. Lanham-Tracy:
Thank you very much for your previous letters 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.
As you are no doubt now aware, the District of Columbia Commission on Human Rights ruled on June 21, 2001 that the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America are in violation of the DC Human Rights Act. They have been ordered to cease and desist in violating the law and ordered to pay $100,000 in damages plus legal fees to Roland Pool and Michael Geller who brought the complaint. Both men must be allowed to take up leadership positions in the Scouts. The full 75-page order is online at: http://www.glaa.org/archive/2001/bsaruling0621.shtml.
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 United Way 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. The National Capital Area BSA Council is in compliance with the national policy and thus appears to have falsely certified that it has "a practice and policy of nondiscrimination."
It is likely that the Boy Scouts will appeal the order. However, neither an appeal nor a court overturning the order would bring the Boy Scouts into compliance with the DC Office of Human Rights or demonstrate a practice or policy of nondiscrimination. In fact, an appeal demonstrates that the Boy Scouts are opposed to both the practice and policy of nondiscrimination.
While all Area Councils are required to follow National Council policy, many Councils are challenging the 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, readmit Pool and Geller, and comply with the Human Rights Commission's order 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.
Please let us know if the District of Columbia United Way intends to list the Boy Scouts in future fundraising appeals. Thank you.
Bob Summersgill, President
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C.