Scouts' lawyers addressing refusal for use of Fla. county's buildings

by Cheryl K. Chumley, posted Tuesday, November 21, 2000 (18 years ago)

WASHINGTON (BP)--Lawyers for the Boy Scouts of America in Florida are working on arguments in refutation of a school board's decision to ban the organization from meeting within its county buildings, according to the Internet news site CNSNews.com.

Broward County School Board members voted unanimously in mid-November to "evict the Boy Scouts from county schools," as the Family Research Council described it, alleging that decision violates a June U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the Scouts' right to prohibit homosexuals from serving in leadership positions.

"We feel the Boy Scouts have been illegally singled out," said Jeffrie Herrmann, chief executive officer for the South Florida Council of BSA, told CNSNews.com. The council includes Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. "Our attorneys are working on putting together a lawsuit and request for injunction" in order to reverse the board's decision, Hermann said.

But the issue is not one of discrimination, said Broward County School Board attorney Edward Marko, maintaining the BSA broke a contract when its leadership chose to ignore a local anti-discrimination policy after the Supreme Court handed down its decision.

In 1998, the school board approved an addendum to its policy manual that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation, among other classifications, against those wishing to utilize the public facilities.

Also in 1998, the school board "entered into a contract [for use of the school facilities] with the [BSA], that they signed, that they said they would not discriminate" on any of those areas outlined in the policy, Marko told CNSNews.com.

But after the Supreme Court ruled in June, BSA officials reportedly advised school board members of their intent to ignore the terms of the contract in favor of the federal decision that gave them authority to prevent homosexuals from serving in leadership roles, Marko said.

Herrmann anticipates the BSA's legal complaint against the school board will be filed by early December.

"I think the school board ... they are approaching this strictly as a breach of contract issue," Herrmann said. "But we believe there are many groups outside of the school system that have access to the schools ... and feel the Boy Scouts are being targeted illegally."


Chumley is a staff writer for CNSNews.com. Used by permission.

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